This project was started as a subteam activity by one of the founders of the East Chapel Hill High School Women in STEM club, who wanted to give the girls in the club an opportunity to explore computer science. As we are all part of a club focused on closing the gender gap in STEM fields, we had pretty diverse team members. 3 out of 5 of our original members were people of color, with all of them being women. A majority of our team members were immigrants. We found that this diversity of cultures and ethnicities helped bring in a lot of cross-cultural understanding and diversity of thought.
What it does
Help students stay organized and connected.
How we built it
We built it using MIT App Inventor. We started out with brainstorming, sketching, prioritizing, prototyping, and finally troubleshooting.
Challenges we ran into
Our team experienced a number of challenges throughout the development process. It was difficult to finally settle on all of the features we wanted our app to have, because we had many great ideas, and sometimes people become emotionally attached to the ideas they come up with. Eventually we reached a good compromise where everyone was satisfied with the final features of the app. We graded each of the features based on usefulness to our target user group and feasibility. Though some of us had very minimal coding experience, none of us had experience with app development and Java or Kotlin. Realistically, we knew that we couldn’t learn a new programming language well enough to make anything of quality and we also didn’t want to overwhelm our teammates with this project, so we decided to use MIT App inventor, which also had a certain learning curve. By the end of this project we were able to master most functions of the App Inventor. We experienced some technical difficulties because the website sometimes had a bug and wouldn’t save our progress, but we didn’t get discouraged by that.
Lastly, two of our team members (Ariel Gao and Ananya Cox) had to drop out of the project because of personal reasons. This had consequences for the rest of us who decided to stay because it meant we would have to take on a larger workload and it also hurt the team morale overall. There were times when we considered dropping out of the competition as a team, but we stuck through until the end because we didn’t want our work to go to waste.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As we said earlier, two of our team members had to drop out of the team. We are also good friends with these people. However, we did not involve our personal life into our “professional life”, and nobody held a grudge against them for leaving, because we understood that this is a very stressful time for a lot of people and that right now their mental well being is more important than a project. We utilized responsibility by being on track with the timeline we set at the beginning. Each one of us did their part and showed up to team meetings most of the time. Obviously, problem solving is a big part of any computer science related activity. We found that we got to refine our problem solving skills during this challenge a lot. With that also comes flexibility, because when we encountered a problem we did not have a fixed mindset but found ways to solve our problem in new and different ways. We're proud of having a final product.
What we learned
We learned the basics of how app development works, and also interpersonal and project management skills which will be incredibly useful in all career fields.
What's next for ConnecTeen
We plan on continuing to make our app better and seek feedback from our peers.