What is a world without access to technology when the world revolves around technology and what are developers doing to close the accessibility gap? Apple truly believes apps for everyone all around the world need to be made by everyone all around the world. They are committed to making coding and the app economy accessible to everyone. STEM/STEAM Day is a great way to highlight this.
On November 8th, Apple has presented an opportunity to celebrate an array of opportunities in the areas of science technology, engineering, arts and mathematics but most importantly to inspire young people (and people of all ages) to look at possibilities available to them not made available in their everyday communities.
Apple knows its crucial for people to see the power they can play in driving and changing their future and what a better way to achieve this than in the world of coding, which is essential literacy that empowers people to create any future they can imagine.
By creating an app they can solve a problem they see in the real world or have access to the world of high-tech jobs they might have never known about or considered.
Unfortunately it’s no secret, racial, ethnic, and gender gaps for students entering technical fields are still huge despite efforts to promote equality inclusion. At Apple, it’s understood how important it is the technology to serve everyone be made by everyone. Apple thrives in listening and acting upon different opinions and experiences that create solutions on the App Store.
They work hard everyday to close the gap by providing leaders from unrepresented communities with the tools and resources needed at every stage of their journey; whether it’s just getting started with programs like Swifts Playgrounds or providing more advanced programs for entrepreneurs.
Coding is about having a voice, and having the tools to share it with the world. Apple has many programs to help underrepresented communities break through barriers and build this capacity. One of the people using his voice in the tech field is Devin Green, a brilliant Stanford student who has created an app that’s geared toward helping college students manage their workload.
Devin has been making waves in STEAM since he built his first app at just 13 years old. Since then, the 19-year-old has developed a second app, Slight Work, which he created as a way to help students manage their homework and make school less stressful. He loves solving problems with technology and looks to his surroundings for inspiration.
While finishing his senior year of high school at home during the pandemic, Devin turned his bedroom into a laboratory. To help those feeling lonely during the pandemic, he was inspired to develop his winning Swift Student Challenge playground at WWDC, which features an AI chatbot that can recognize and respond to 63 different comments and questions. Devin is now back on campus in Stanford studying engineering and computer science, and hopes to use his problem-solving skills to affect change on a larger scale.
Green, who’s a college student himself at Stanford University recently received an opportunity for Slight Work to be added to the Apple App Store.In celebration of the upcoming STEAM/STEM Day, The Koalition spoke to Green about coding, STEM, his accomplishments thus far, future projects and more.
“My dad took me to see the movie Avengers in theaters and I was absolutely in awe with just the amount of technology both shown in the Avengers and then later in the movie Iron Man. I absolutely loved it [and] Jarvis was cool [and] I wanted to be able to make myself my version. I knew initially I wouldn’t be able to just go ahead and just jump right into making something as complicated as that, so I took a step back and reevaluated how can I get into this realm of computer science and coding. I just looked at the little iPod Touch I was watching the movie Iron Man on and [thought how I should? I] just start[ed] making an app and [went] from there.”
“I had no idea [where] to turn to [and] neither [did] my parents [who didn’t] have any experience with this kind of stuff [and] my sister who’s younger than me didn’t have any experience with this kind of stuff either. [So I] just [started to] Google [to] see what I can find on the internet, if there’s any information people can give me or if there’s a source that has more information on what I can do. I stumbled across Apple [which] had books on the programming languages used to make iOS apps. My Google searches immediately popped up different videos with tutorials of people walking you through the software you need to download [like] Xcode. [It explained] ‘this is how you get a project set up, this is how you write your first line of code’. Those kind of sequential steps’ [had] me saying, ‘okay I can do that, I can do this, I can do this.’ [I] built my confidence up enough to where I could advance to larger steps from there. [It was] just really nice there were so many resources available for me to explore that were just a Google search away [to] make this process really easy.”
As Green continued to learn more and pushed himself to study complicated coding, what started as a hobby to create his own Jarvis, grew into his passion. “There’s this kind of magic I found with fields like computer science and technology. When you really like what you do [and] the end goal is trying to get it to work, it just really feels wow. I really went from point A to point B and I’m doing things that look quite nearly indistinguishable from magic through a computer right now. The fact there is an end goal to get to a point with these smaller steps, I [knew I could] get to Jarvis and every kind of win from there felt like a step closer to that goal and then of course a small victory on its own part just made the journey that much easier to keep myself motivated. I knew what I was aiming towards and no matter how much I struggled in some of these smaller steps, once I got to a point where I won that smaller piece, I could move forward and take that step forward into the larger journey as well.”
Those steps lead to Slight Work, an application Green first started developing in high school. “It was really aimed around helping me and my classmates stay focused on our homework. It was Junior Year when we were all finding it really difficult to keep track of all the stuff we have to get done during the day. We’d all [show up] to class like ‘oh my gosh we have a test? Did anybody else know we had an essay due today in English?’ We were running into those kind of problems all the time [and] it was really hard for us.”
“With the rise of social media in general [and] people our age having trouble staying concentrated on one thing at a time, the goal was to make it easier to prioritize which assignments to do first. I developed a ranking system based on emojis [for people to categorize] how much [they] like [a] class and how difficult [they] think this workload is. From there it can develop a study plan for you. [It’ll] say [which assignment you should get out-of-the-way first.”
Green’s app also uses the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo that uses a timer to break work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
“It has that kind of built into the system where you can activate that so your brain is focused on your homework [and] for these short spurts you get the breaks you need. I got a lot of really great feedback when I released it.”
When looking back at his success, Green hopes to inspire others so they can surpass him and his inventions; helping to further advance the world of STEM. “I just really feel like anybody can get there and it’s only getting easier over time too. With Swift Playgrounds there’s just more resources than ever and more people supporting [others] than ever. I really hope what I can do is surpassed in the future. I hope that while I’m trying to do as much as I can somebody else comes up next and they can just [add] extra step and then somebody else can go ahead and grab their hand and pull them up as well.”
To learn more about Green and his apps as well as the legacy he wants to leave behind, check out our full interview in the video above.