Sift, for Untraditional Learners

Linda Huang, Ethan Zhang, James King, Nala Chen


We aimed to develop a web application for students (teenagers to young adults) who may not learn well in traditional classroom lecture environments. We understand that there are many different types of learners out there, whether they be hands-on learners or people who can only learn after watching others complete a hard task, and we wanted to address their needs to provide an accessible learning tool.

We want to develop a site that allows a user to search for terms, and have the results be presented according to their preferred learning style. In this case we give three preliminary options-- results sorted by images, by videos and podcasts, and by instructional text methods of which people can follow along. These stem from our research of the three learning styles in people identified by Walter Burke Barbe and his associates include the Visualizing (learning by seeing), Auditory (learning by listening), and Kinesthetic (or hands-on) learning styles. Our product is named Sift, which references the "sifting" of information. It is also an acronym for "Styles in Finding Things."

Running the Web App

  • Navigate to src
  • Execute export and flask run
  • Open in a web browser

Features and Upcoming

Features we included involve searching for different subjects, a ranking system to provide more effective resources, categorization of resources by learning styles, and a clean user interface. Upcoming Features that we hope to develop include bookmarking posts for later use, a feature to add resources for others to use, and a rating system for effective sources.


Throughout the process, we all learned a lot about the various aspects of web development. We refined our front-end skills through meticulous planning and clean code. Meanwhile, we decided to work with Flask, a technology we were not too familiar with. Overall, we considered it a rewarding decision, although we faced many challenges along the way. We had a little difficulty bringing together the front end and back end of our application, although we ultimately worked out the minor issues. For example, using requests and fetching data was a little tricky at first, but we overcame this issue with a ton of experimentation and positive attitudes.

About the Team and Tools

This web application was created for Cal Hacks 2019 (October 25 - 27). Our goal was to develop a platform to more effectively gather educational resources. We were inspired by the chance to develop a tool that we would enjoy using. In our own lives, we've found that while there are usually really good articles and sources, often times it helps to draw from a variety of sources, approaching topics from different perspectives and approaches is a crucial step in the learning process.

The tools we used to develop Sift include Python (Pandas, Flask), Javascript, HTML5, CSS3, and the Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator). Each of us came from different backgrounds, and none of us knew each other prior to Cal Hacks. However, the opportunity to come together to work on this project is something that is invaluable to us all.

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