By Team Code Work Ahead

This is a spotlight of 2020 Regional Winner Code Work Ahead, who created the app Rooting For You to help teenagers struggling during the global COVID-19 pandemic by supporting them to develop a growth mindset

Hi! We are Alex, Alyssa, and Mary and we’re highschoolers from team Code Work Ahead, assisted by our mentor, Cheng Cheng Tan. After working together at a hackathon, we realized we made a pretty good team with all our different strengths (graphic design, coding, etc.) combined, so we wanted to continue working together on projects we were passionate about. We heard about Technovation through Alyssa’s mom and we realized it would be an amazing opportunity to build a technological solution to a real world problem. From the very beginning, we realized we wanted to address a problem relating to mental health. So, we all met up together to brainstorm how to refine our direction as well as what kind of app we should make. We initially came up with an array of problems, including topics ranging from public speaking to sensory processing issues.

It took a few days to figure out which problem would be the best to tackle, but we decided on an app to motivate girls struggling with self-doubt and fear of failure to try something new, boosting self-confidence and building healthy habits. We’d later realize that our app would also be beneficial to those struggling during the pandemic. This problem is important to us because we struggle with fear of failure, which has kept us from taking large risks such as enrolling in higher academic classes.

We also conducted a survey that reached all across the globe. Our survey showed that over 85% of teens rated their confidence on an average day as low and would not attempt a challenging task if it risked any chance of failure. In addition 88% of our survey participants agreed that if their daily confidence were to increase, their happiness levels would too. In addition, especially due to Covid-19, many people have been isolated in their homes, a severe cause of depression. Thus, the lack of productivity and goal seeking has diminished, something our solution also tackles.

Our app, Rooting For You, tackles this problem by encouraging teens to face their fear of failure and develop a growth mindset through a fun app that challenges users to take risks, growing a personalized garden along the way. The app will break down personal goals that a user would want to accomplish, growing confidence, as well as encouraging self-reflection through a journal writing feature.

We have tested each draft of prototyping among our friends and family 3 times. Once, with our paper-prototype/online mockup on Figma, our bare skeleton code without design, and our final product for refinements. Through each user test we have received validations and suggestions to improve our app such as the challenges users would like to accomplish.

By working on this growth and perseverance app, we too, have learned to cooperate as a team and grow as people, overcoming obstacles and our fear of failure. We’ve failed many times in the process of coding up Rooting For You, especially when it came between Android and Apple products. However, through creating multiple drafts (we created 51 drafts!) and isolating and dissecting our code for the bug, a scary task since it involved “destroying” our written code, we worked together to solve our error. As a team we learned to take each other’s advice and suggestions. Our proudest moment was when we pieced together the individual parts of our project (the back end, front end, and animation) and finally got our app to work as a whole. It was like all the puzzle pieces were epically falling into place.

In the future, we plan to rebuild the app on a different platform. Although Thunkable was easy for us as a group to work on remotely, it isn’t the most ideal platform as it’s both laggy and hard to use. Now that we have the logic for our app already created it will be easier to rewrite it. In addition, we’re currently applying for another hackathon, HackMIT, and we’re excited to work on our next innovation there!


What advice would you have for young inventors?

As advice to young inventors and builders we’d like to say that you should work on a problem that you’re passionate about. Your enthusiasm for the project will keep you going to completion. Also try to make a solution which hasn’t been done before because if you need this unique solution, then other people probably need it too. And lastly, make your product visually appealing (not plain text) because apps are a largely visual medium and having a nice looking app can make you stand out against competitors.

Our favorite parts about working on our app:

  • Alex: My favorite part of this project was coding together the home screen, and being able to generate all the flowers at their correct stages.
  • Alyssa: My favorite part was editing our pitch video. Being able to see our enthusiasm and determination on screen was very rejuvenating. It was also the very last item on our list, so completing it was a very satisfying moment.
  • Mary: My favorite part of building the project was the creation of the different challenges used in the app. It was really interesting to ask around and figure out which problems people really struggled with in relation to their fear of failure.