Stoody: How We Got Here and How We Made It

An insight into how I (Zayna Dil.) got into coding, joined the Qoom Creator Group, and built Stoody with my friend, Zhiling.

Stoody: How We Got Here and How We Made It

Forward. Forward. Light. The first ‘code’ I ever wrote at the age of 8. My family and many of our friends had decided to visit some friends who had recently moved out of state. Since we were all stuck inside for a while, my dad suggested we all try out coding on an Hour of Code. Hour of Code is a program with a variety of hour-long activities that introduces people of all ages to the basics of code to open up the computer science field. LightBot remains my favorite part; who wouldn’t enjoy a little robot asking for help to light up some blue tiles. Later on, I found myself returning to Hour of Code activities whenever I got bored, completing all the different challenges. LightBot’s “Good Job!” message that came after creating functional code gave me a sense of gratification that kept me coming back. Then, when my school decided to implement it into our elementary curriculum, I was over the moon! My school introduced Python in middle school, and I finally learned to code programs without blocks, like I’d been wanting to but hadn’t known where to begin. Though we didn’t have enough time to proficiently learn everything in class due to studying other topics, I became so interested that I started working on Python projects outside of class, which led to self-studying.

While looking into resources to learn code, I learned about the wondrous world of Hack-a-Thons. So, I decided to join a three-day Hack-a-Thon with two of my friends during eighth grade. We opted on building a basic 3D platformer game, as one of them had made one before. On the last day of the hack, I decided to use Qoom to build a simple website to promote our game, as they have an easily understood layout and had sponsored the event . So I attended some Qoom workshops, used references (mainly from W3School), and began working away. One Qoom workshop helped me build my first-ever data-capture form from scratch; we used it for our Contact Us page. We ended up winning 2nd place in the Games section, and then Kiae, the co-founder of Qoom, reached out to us because she noticed our website and wanted to know if we’d be interested in the Qoom Creator Group. We were ecstatic because we all enjoy coding and such, so finding a mentorship program to help us further our skills sounded like an amazing idea (and it was).

Once we had joined the Creator Group, we started brainstorming for ideas. We came up with a time management assistant that centers around balancing academic (or work) self-care/mental health (because many people, along with ourselves, need one). We decided on the name Stoody, loosely based on Qoom and, and got to work imagining elements to add. After compiling a long list, we put out a form to see some of the more popular elements so we could prioritize them. That boiled it down to a to-do list, timer, study tips, and break activities. Ironically, we had horrible time management skills at the beginning of the project; our excitement led to us jumping straight into the project and attempting to do everything in a short period of time. On top of that, while trying to build a timer with Python, we learned from research that JavaScript would work better. So we dropped Python from the project (even though it was the only coding language we know) and built the website with JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. I quickly got burnt out and lost motivation for a few days. However, the weekly meeting with everyone helped because I saw other people working with their code and facing obstacles as well, and it helped me regain motivation. So after sorting ourselves out, we pushed through the rest of the programming, with obstacles in the way, some of which we are still dealing with. Midway through, we had a one-on-one meeting with the co-founders, Jared and Kiae, to set goals for the showcase (building on new objectives and reassessing past goals to make them more reasonable). We reassessed our plan and decided to finish the main pages for the showcase (homepage, study tips, study timer, break timer, and login).

"homepage": "main.html" Publish. That was the most recent code I wrote before the Qoom Creator Group Showcase at the age of 14. This was followed by a presentation by my friend and me showcasing Stoody. Zhiling and I had decided to join a few months ago to get better at coding. Since building Stoody (with the assistance of Kiae and Jared), we’ve learned how to work on long-term projects as well as three new coding languages. Reaching out for help, especially when in a mentorship, is always helpful because there’s always more to learn. Seeing the final product remains my favorite part; it’s like finally seeing all the blue tiles lit up.