When the four of us first met early on in our junior year—virtually, through a Discord server—we bonded over our shared complaints about school and life; however, none of us were aware of the toll these struggles would take on us. We stayed with each other through finals and AP testing, piano competitions and sport seasons, and watched each other stay up until ungodly hours at night, finishing assignments for class. In a world where everything seems to scream at us to go on and never look back, we forgot one of our most important responsibilities: ourselves, our health—both mental and physical—and our happiness. This is how we came up with Pawse, in hopes of helping others with non-stop lives like us remember to do the little things that both our bodies and minds need—and, as a nod to our roots, we decided to create this application on Discord, where we first met.

What it does

We originally planned for Pawse to be a multi-functional self-care Discord bot. First off, users would be able to choose a Discord emoji to represent their pet, and give it a name as well. This serves as motivation for the users to complete various self-care tasks.

The four main aspects of health that we would focus on would be drinking water, remembering to eat, taking a break from screens, and getting adequate sleep. For the first three items, users would input the time intervals that they hoped to follow with their lives (e.g. I want to take a screen break every two hours, drink water every hour, and eat every three hours). Every time one of these time intervals passes, the pet will lose a “life” for a certain category, and the user will be prompted to do one of these self-care activities. If the user completes the activity, however, and lets the Discord bot know, the pet will regain a life. The number of total lives varies depending on the task and what seems reasonable. The pet will continue losing lives as time intervals pass. If the pet runs out of lives, a special message will be sent, imploring the user to complete the task.

However, because of the limited time, we were only able to implement the water function. We do hope to expand this bot in the future!

We also have many features to support mental health in addition to physical health—the bot can spit out random, interesting messages, or send happy pictures if the user needs cheering up. Finally, the user can also make the bot go to sleep or wake up on command.

How we built it

We built our bot solely in Python using, an online code compiler where we could all collaborate. We also connected it to a Discord server so that we could interact with and send commands to the bot. Our bot has a “User” class to store all information on a user and their pet, along with several bot commands that the user can type in themselves. Additionally, we used libraries such as “asyncio” which helped us manage timers. We also have lots of fun quotes and images that we embedded into our project!

Challenges we ran into

All of us know a bit about coding, but none of us had any experience sending an app out into the real world. We were a bit unsure of how to handle concepts like connecting to the server, sending messages back and forth between the client and our back-end, and possibly the biggest challenge of all: translating the very real and fundamental concept of time into our project. And since our program called many functions back-to-back, it was sometimes hard to pin down exactly where the problem was occurring until we had done several trial runs over and over.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We’re proud that we were able to problem-solve and troubleshoot a lot of errors that came up. At first, we didn’t quite understand what we were looking at or even the syntax that we were typing in. However, with time (and hours of searching Stack Overflow), we gradually grew acclimated to each function and keyword. We were aware of it before, but this project fully showed us that the internet is a powerful learning tool with so much information just at our fingertips.

What we learned

Since our team is scattered across the country, we learned the importance of clear communication. We designated roles to each of us and had a channel where we could ping each other in case we needed feedback/clarification on a role. Additionally, we learned how to celebrate our tiny victories. The world of tech can seem so competitive and intimidating. However, we supported each other throughout this process, one step at a time—from when our images loaded, to when we got rid of a pesky error message, to when we finally got two Python processes to run simultaneously.

What's next for Pawse

In the future, we hope to add more images/quotes/music links to our bot, so that our users won’t get repetitive content. We also hope to continue implementing the planned self-care features beyond just hydration, as important as it is! These include reminders for eating and taking screen breaks. We also want the pet to be able to adapt better to the user’s daily schedule. For example, we would like the user to be able to choose sleep/wake times along with unique intervals depending on the day, so that we can help them with yet another critical aspect of their health: getting adequate sleep. Finally, we are looking forward to incorporating a more aesthetically pleasing interface in order to better facilitate user interaction with our bot.

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