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10-1-21 — Trio Earns National Recognition for Software

Oct. 1, 2021 ~ Three California Trail Middle School eighth graders decided to try a new skill and ended up earning national recognition for their software project about vehicle theft deterrence named K.Y.V.S (Keep Your Vehicle Safe).

Ayanna Jain, Devamayi Nair, and Vaishnavi Lakshman were awarded an Honorable Mention and named one of 40 national finalists out of a thousand submissions in the 2021 ProjectCSGIRLS National Competition for Middle School Girls in the “Safer World” category. Founded in 2013, ProjectCSGIRLS is an organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in computing and technology.

“It’s important to try new things,” Jain said. “We were interested in computer science, and I just started browsing for opportunities and thought this sounded cool. I called up two of my friends and we started brainstorming immediately.”

The K.Y.V.S. software informs a car owner before a thief breaks into a car by using a camera and smartphone technology. The small device is installed in the vehicle and sends a notification to the owner’s phone through a wireless internet network whenever motion is detected around the vehicle, including a photo of the motion and date/time timestamp. For this software to work, Jain, Nair, and Lakshman learned Python, a coding language, and how to build a device using a Raspberry Pi computer.

Jain’s mother, Yukti Jain, served as their coach for the competition. She was thrilled that her daughter and their friends took the initiative to try something new like coding.

“Knowing how much time and hard work that they put in, I was proud of their initiative to learn something new that they could use the rest of their life - especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field,” Yukti said. “I want all girls, not just my daughter and her friends, to know that they can do whatever they want for their career.”

During the process, the eighth graders approached obstacles, such as learning a new coding language, excitedly and with a plan.

“This was such a fun process, even though it was a difficult project,” Nair said. “The obstacles were even kind of fun because we loved being able to recognize the problems and overcome the obstacles to find solutions together. Even without national recognition, we would’ve felt accomplished and proud of ourselves.”

Mike Wiley, California Trail Middle School Principal, was impressed with these students’ grit.

“Not only are these students clearly very smart, but they obviously care about their community enough to do something about it,” Wiley said. “Their mindset to learn new things and drive to apply them will make the world better as they move on from California Trail.”

Jain, Nair, and Lakshman want to encourage their fellow Olathe Public Schools students to look around their school for opportunities to try something new. One of the district’s goals is that every student will be challenged and supported through tiers of instruction by all staff to achieve a high standard of academic performance and growth. This nationally-recognized trio agreed that their favorite thing about the district is the teachers and the support they feel to challenge themselves and try new things at school each and every day.

“There are so many opportunities here. It may sound silly, but it feels like a big family. Every teacher does more than just teaching,” Lakshman said. “They truly enjoy what they are doing and help provide so many opportunities for students. You can talk to any teacher, and they will help you.”