With just four words, a tech-savvy teenager from Bucks County made it easy to learn about upcoming events in Pennsylvania’s third largest school district.
“Alexa – open Central Bucks.”
Alaina Ahuja, 13, an eighth grade student at Tamanend Middle School, created an Amazon Alexa skill for parents and students at 23 schools in the Central Bucks School District. Alaina, who started coding at age 6, says she first created the useful skill for Jamison Elementary when she was in sixth grade.
“There were a lot of events going on at the time, and it was hard to keep up with them,” said the Township of Warwick resident of her motivation for creating the skill, which users can download from the store. Amazon for their Amazon Alexa devices. .
The Central Bucks Skill helps parents and students stay on top of what’s going on in their schools, including schedule changes due to inclement weather.
Users can say commands such as “Alexa – ask Central Bucks about Titus” for information about events on their campus.
The brilliant student recently migrated the skill to Amazon Web Services and added new features like signing into the Central Bucks School District Twitter account, showing users the latest tweets from the district.
This one is kind of an optional feature, but if you have an Alexa device and if you allow it on your Alexa app, it can give you a yellow light notification every time a tweet comes up about school closing. via the CBSD Twitter handle, “said Alaina, who plans to become an entrepreneur when she is older. “I’m working on a lot of different features to add to the skill, and I’m improving it steadily. “
She created it using the Alexa Developer Console and her knowledge of a programming language called Python. Alaina even offers a step-by-step tutorial of the skill building process on her blog.
The Alexa Developer Console lets him see how many people are using his skills and which features are most popular.
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“If I check in the last 30 days, there has been an increase of 32 new unique customers and 35 new people have activated the skill,” Alaina explained while checking the statistics.
“Seventy percent of people use the upcoming events feature and 15% of people use the Twitter feed,” she added.
Developing an Alexa skill sounds complicated, but it came naturally for the gifted problem-solver, who created her first iOS app for iPhone when she was in fourth grade.
Inspired by her own tendency to misguide things, Alaina, then 9, created the found objects app for her elementary school in New Jersey for her inventions fair.
“I created it with a programming language called Swift,” said Alaina.
“The school would upload photos of lost items and parents could check to see if any of these items belonged to their children, so they know where the missing water bottles, hats or coats went,” she declared.
Alaina’s dad helped her introduce her to coding by signing her up for an MIT Scratch account when she was 6 years old.
Programming language and online community allow kids to program and create games.
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“It’s a block-based program, my dad bought me a bunch of books about it,” Alaina said. “I learned to do a lot of different games, simple things like that.”
When she was 10, her father bought her a kit that allowed her to build robots, and the following year she started programming on a device called the Raspberry Pi.
“It’s more or less a kind of circuit board that you can program with its own wires and lights,” explained the tech genius.
Alaina has already proven herself to be wise beyond her tech years, and now she’s helping other kids learn to code.
Computer science education is not as readily available to all children, she says, adding that computer programming summer camps can cost parents thousands of dollars.
“I really want a way that people who are less fortunate can also learn to code and get to grips with technology,” Alaina said.
That’s why she taught free Scratch classes in the summer and free Python coding classes in the fall at the Township of Warminster Library with the help of Ann Duffy, the Youth Services Librarian. .
The eight-week classes, from 45 minutes to an hour, were intended for children 6 years and older.
Alaina’s formidable talents did not go unnoticed.
In October 2020, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick called for a flag in honor of Alaina to be hoisted on Capitol Hill in recognition of her technological achievements and exceptional commitment to academics.
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While most people only join the social networking platform LinkedIn after their careers have been established, Alaina has already made around 300 CEOs, founders, and CTOs contacts.
She says she contacts whenever she needs help with coding. “Programming, honestly, is not easy,” said Alaina.
She encourages other young learners to get involved in the world of STEM to help solve some of the world’s many problems.
“We all see the little things we could fix in the world, but I think a few of us are really trying to jump in and try to fix these issues,” said Alaina.
“No matter how you do it, it can be through technology, it can be something else that very few people do, but whatever skills you have, try to use them for the benefit of the world and the people who are surround you, ”she said. noted.