Published: 23rd November 2021
Recycling can be child's play: These school kids have developed an app to show you just how
Heal the World' was a product of the imagination and concern of a sixth grader. It can well lead other kids (and adults) towards good waste management practices
Summer of 2021 saw 11-year-old Pranet Pahwa travel from his hometown of Faridabad to Delhi. What greeted this youngster was huge mounds of garbage at the Okhla landfill. The news reports on how the height of Delhi's landfills are giving the Qutub Minar a run for its money disturb us all. And when Pranet saw these unpleasant man-made structures up close, he wrinkled his nose, more in worry than disgust. The Grade VI student of Shiv Nadar School, who loves to code in his free time, spent the next few days brainstorming with his friends, Ayush Sankaran, Jasith Narang and Shivam Bhat about what they could do to let people know that we have a problem on our hands. Little did they know that their efforts would gain them a prestigious award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The four friends met at a coding workshop back in November 2020 and even though the meeting was virtual, they found that they just clicked. Pranet, who enjoys coding, would find apps online and create projects for them. The quartet decided to come up with an application that promotes discussions on the issue of waste management and creates awareness about the need to recycle.
They titled their app 'Heal the World' and over a period of one month, set about building its three core features. "Among these, I believe the 'Know More' section is the most important because its components of 'Why Recycle' and 'How Recycle' lead the users to informative videos that will provide them with a ton of insight into the issue," says Pranet.
The app isn't all lectures, however. The group says they kept in mind an interactive experience and a young target audience and so, incorporated the 'Have Some Fun' area that comprises a couple of cool games and some tricky trivia about recycling.
The 'Play Your Part' feature is where things get really hands-on for these school kids. Accessible only by members who have signed up, it comes with a 'Schedule a Visit' option where users can call for one of the team members to visit their place and help set up a kitchen compost. The team will get all the required tools and expertise. Then there's also the feature to set up a beach cleaning campaign and donate to various NGOs working in the recycling space — the list is available on the app.
"The most difficult part was the remote collaboration and the choosing of the theme of recycling. There are many facets to waste management but we decided to tackle this one for now," Pranet says, hinting, perhaps, at his future projects.
When the youngster discovered MIT's monthly app challenge, he was already working on his healthcare app XDOC+, fresh out of the workshop in December 2020. He ended up winning App of the Month with that creation. He then found out about the MIT App Inventor Summer Appathon, which is an annual event, recognising young developers. 'Heal the World' won the People’s Choice Award under the 'Youth Team' category.
The app will be available for download once the founders register it. For his part, Pranet doesn't shy away from walking the talk. He constantly discourages the use of plastics at his place, turns waste into art and uses jute bags exclusively. After all, if small drops make an ocean, then small waste sure makes a landfill.