UPPER WEST SIDE — Five eighth-graders at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School have created Swepple, an app designed to make scheduling easier for students and their teachers.
Students Christian Baiocco, Abraham Rohrig, David Schalop, Gabriel Feuerstein-Mendik and Dylan Patterson joined the Verizon Innovative App Challenge this fall, and along with a team from a nearby suburb, beat 1,300 teams to win Best in State.
They're hoping to move on to Best in Region and eventually to be named a National Winner, enabling them to build the app at the MIT Media Lab, each win a Samsung Note phone and earn $1,500 for their school.
The boys noticed that while schools continue to bring technology into the classroom, through iPads and Smart Boards, paper class schedules are still the norm.
Baiocco said he thought an app could provide real-time tracking of where students should be and also help them compare schedules with teachers to schedule meetings.
There are fun features, too, like a lunch menu and a clock that counts down to the end of the class, the school day and the end of the year, Baiocco said.
Adam Gerson, the faculty member overseeing the team, said the problem of schedule confusion at the school is real.
"Students constantly and regularly ask me 'when is this period over?'" he said.
The students said they were surprised nothing like their app existed already, when so many schools have complex rotating schedules. Columbia Grammar works on a six-day rotating schedule that makes it hard to remember on a Monday what the corresponding day in the cycle is, they said.
"We were thinking about how there are a lot of schedules [apps] in general. No one had really put in the thought for one just for a student," Schalop said.
The app will include a drop-down menu listing other schools too, starting with other private schools like theirs and then moving on to public schools that allow smartphone use, they said.
"There have been a lot of other kids who come up to us and ask for the app to be at their school," Feuerstein-Mendik said.
The boys said they spent many weekends crafting their app, and will build it with Gerson's help even if they don't win the competition.
For now, they're excited by the buzz that's been spreading across their school and others.