Introducing two young technopreneurs

| March 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

The website mashable.com recently reminded its readers that when technology is used effectively in the classroom, it can foster ingenuity.

Mashable documented the story of 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani, a student at Dorseyville Middle School near Pittsburgh, in the United States (US), who noticed his teachers handed out a profusion of worksheets.

Basic research taught Mirchandani that the ink used to print the documents amounted to more than US$75 an ounce.

“Using software called APFill Ink Coverage, he calculated how much ink was used in four representative fonts: Century Gothic, Comic Sans, Garamond and the default choice of most word processors, Times New Roman. The ink-preserving winner: Garamond.

“Changing Times New Roman to Garamond on all handouts, Mirchandani calculated, would save his school district US$21 000 a year,” reported the website.

Mirchandani was lucky enough to have the support of his school, which led to him publishing a paper in the Journal for Emerging Investigators in early 2014. You can read the article, in which Mirchandani lays out how switching to Garamond would save the US federal government US$136 million a year on ink alone, at http://www.emerginginvestigators.org/2014/03/inkcost- 2/.

‘The Mirchandani Method’ has garnered widespread admiration from big businesses, but the federal government says it prefers to cut costs by cutting out printing altogether in favour of digital applications.

And in Fairfax, Virginia, 13-year-old Viraj Puri has created the world’s first live social media ‘heat map’, a technological tool to target cyberbullying.

Puri’s invention identifies keywords used on social media sites to alert school authorities and parents to instances of bullying. The tool has, however, taken on even greater significance – parents can use the data generated by the heat map as a measure of quality when selecting a school for their child. “This will put more focus on quality of life and get lawmakers to address this very important issue,” said Puri in an interview.

The young entrepreneur is currently working with scientists from the University of Wisconsin and Georgetown University to use ‘smart’ technology to further refine raw data. He’s also in touch with Washington lawmakers and attorney generals across the country via his website www.bullyvention.com.

“Using the heat map, I’m… providing a ‘bullying index’ for entire communities so they see where bullying is an issue. My goal is not only to predict the likelihood of the next bullying occurrence but see where it’s happening geographically.”

Puri knows he’s got to stay one step ahead of online teen bullies. “Kids know how to turn off our devices and manage… privacy on social media. I would like to work with Twitter, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and others to analyse their data on a daily basis. I want Bullyvention to be the impetus in creating relevant information about bullying that every website, parent and lawmaker can see and use.”

Category: Autumn 2015

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