Wellington pupils win technology competition with post-quake 'safe home finder' app

The team met with Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to show him their app.
Supplied

The team met with Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to show him their app.

Three Year six students from Queen Margaret College have their sights set on San Francisco after winning an international "Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero" competition.

Isabel Haupt, 10, Eimear Fitzgerald, 11, and Jaskiran Rahi, 11, were one of the 260 teams, made up of more than 1000 girls, that entered this year's competition.

This is the first year New Zealand has been included in the Australian-based event, the goal of which was to design an app that solved a problem in the community.

(From left:) Eimear Fitzgerald, Jaskiran Rahi and Isabel Haupt demonstrate Evac-U- Buddy at the
Xero showcase for ...
Supplied

(From left:) Eimear Fitzgerald, Jaskiran Rahi and Isabel Haupt demonstrate Evac-U- Buddy at the Xero showcase for national winners.

The team's Evac-U-Buddy app – a post-quake safe home finder – won the New Zealand primary school division last month.

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Isabel,   who lives in the low-lying suburb of Seatoun, first got the idea after last year's Kaikoura earthquake. 

"After the earthquake we had to drive up the hill. All up the side of the roads people were sleeping in their cars."

She says the app is designed to help people find a safe place to stay if there is a tsunami.

Team mate Eimear says the app allows people to register as an evacuee or as a host.

"When you are a host you fill in whether your house is dog friendly or baby friendly and how many people you can take. A pin will pop up on the map of your house so people know how to find you."

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The team spent countless hours in the school library designing and developing their app, and the three girls met every week to assign new jobs.

Over the course of the project, they learned how to use MIT Appmaker, to block code, design buttons, wireframe the screen layouts, and run an android emulator.

Finding out they had won was "quite a shock", Isabel says.

"It was late at night my mum got the email, I was really excited."

The team are hoping to make it through the entry round and be selected to travel to San Francisco next year, where they would further develop their app in a special Technovation Camp round.

Isabel is hoping they can upgrade the app further, so it can also be used in other natural disasters like bush fires and floods.

In the future, she is is looking into a career as a professor and scientist at a university.

"I've found out that in university you can get tenure – where you get your own lab and can be a professor. I'd like to do something like that."

 - Stuff

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