Andrea Mungroo spent time during school playing with a cell phone, and was recently honored for it.
Mungroo, 14, is in eighth grade at A. MacArthur Barr Middle School, and in her computer programming class she and her classmates work to create apps for cell phones. She also has an interest in engineering and her mother showed her an ad for the Be An Engineer Expo, coming up this Sunday at White Plains High School.
The expo features a contest for middle school students to come up with an idea and design to protect against a storm surge, based on the damage done locally via Superstorm Sandy.
Mungroo, working with her computer programming teacher Christopher Polizzi, created the Storm Surge app. She was named one of five finalists in the contest and will find out at the expo is she is the winner, for which she would also receive an iPad.
“It’s an app that’s easy for both adults and kids to use,” Mungroo said. “I researched how many people have cell phones and tablets, and thought creating an app would be a good way to get information out about hurricanes and storms.”
The app features a homepage with six buttons: water levels, weather, storm facts, storm safety, how-to storm proof and storm mania.
The water levels and weather buttons link to sites where people can plug in their zip codes and find out the current water levels and weather in their area.
“Measuring sea water levels, along with weather, can keep you up-to-date with what is happening in and outside your area,” Mungroo wrote in a description of her app. “I have put these components into my app, so adults and teens can easily find out the weather and sea water levels, which can be critical before, during, or after a storm.”
The storm facts button leads to information pages about hurricanes and tornadoes, including how much damage the storms can bring, what causes them and the signs leading up to them. The storm safety button contains information about emergency supply kits, anchoring furniture, evacuating if need be and coming up with a family plan. The storm proofing buttons lets users know different ways to protect windows, check trees and roofs, protect doors and other entryways and check their property.
“I did research for those online and in the library,” Mungroo said. “We’re also learning about natural disasters in science class, so I got some information from there.”
Storm Mania is a game Mungroo created for the app in which items move around the screen and have to be collected. Once they’re collected, a message pops up on the screen with information about why they’re important to have in a storm. Some of the items in the game are an emergency kit, money, bottled water and a phone.
Mungroo said she worked on the project for two to three weeks, both at school and at home. She added that she thinks she wants to go into program engineering when she grows up.
“I like computers and making up programs,” she said.
Polizzi said when he was first made aware of the contest, he didn’t bring it to his computer programming classes. Instead he spoke to building classes about it because he thought that was more in line with what the contest was asking for. However, he realized an app could work also after Mungroo came to him for help with the contest.
“I liked it because it was a bit different,” Polizzi said. “I think that’s probably why she’s a finalist too. It’s a different idea for the contest and it’s a very modern one.”