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Sinha brothers place first at state media, design competition

At the virtual Whitehall-Coplay School Board meeting June 12, Whitehall-Coplay Middle School Principal Angela Friebolin introduced the first-place winners of the Pennsylvania Media and Design Competition.

WCMS eighth-grader Neiv Sinha and his brother, seventh-grader Vihaan Sinha, spent more than a year developing Ordo, an app for the management and completion of school assignments. They even came up with a tagline - “Your Work. Your Time. Organized.”

“Computer science has been one of our interests for a long time. We first got interested in coding around fourth grade when we were introduced to it by our father,” Neiv said. “We started out by creating small programs, such as tick-tack-toe and hangman, among many others on our computer, using a language called Python.”

Neiv said he and his brother thought it was a lot of fun since it was the first time they had created something interactive. However, the games they made were only available on their home computers, and Neiv and Vihaan wanted to develop a game they could share online.

“We learned how to design Web pages from scratch and how to use new languages to build internet apps,” Neiv said. “One of our first Web pages was a silly game we made called Potato Clicker. It was a lot of fun to share the game with our friends, and we received tons of feedback, which motivated us to continue building more.”

Neiv said he and Vihaan always attended computer fairs and programming events, starting when they were in elementary school. That is how they met Tony Pangaio, computer applications and business technology teacher at WCMS. In January of last year, Pangaio encouraged the Sinhas to enter the Pennsylvania Media and Design Competition.

“The criteria of the competition was to create a program that would be useful in real life, unlike the likes of Potato Clicker and those other games,” Vihaan said.

Neiv and Vihaan brainstormed ideas that would solve everyday problems. They thought about challenges they experienced in their own lives, such as juggling school work while staying organized.

“That’s where the idea for Ordo was born. We decided to create an app that could help students like us to stay organized and submit work on time, every time,” Vihaan said.

According to Vihaan, ordo means order in Latin.

While developing the app, the Sinhas thought of ways to engage users and decided to add a special feature that uses motivational messages to praise users when they stay on track with their school work goals. If users fall behind, the program also has words of encouragement to help them catch up.

Ordo helps students organize their school work schedule, stay on track and hand assignments in on time. Students can add an assignment, choose the due date, add the subject and select the priority level and whether it is mandatory or extra credit. A special feature of Ordo allows students to pick the effort level needed for the assignment, which is measured in how many minutes it’s expected to take.

One of Ordo’s unique features is a special table that displays all of the current day’s assignments and a breakdown of how long each is expected to take.

“So, if we click on this math assignment, the program wants us to work 20 minutes today and finish off our program because we have enough time today,” Neiv explained while screen sharing Ordo with the board.

Ordo allows users to select how many hours they plan to spend on school work each day and to pick a preferred work style. For example, they can choose to work on assignments a little bit each day up to the due date or to get it finished as soon as possible.

“We’ve adapted it to make the experience as realistic as possible, so the process is natural,” Neiv said.

Another big feature of Ordo is the calendar, which offers users a visual representation to show their workload over a span of time to help them plan ahead. A color-coded legend, ranging from shades of red to green, gives students a clear view of their workload each day.

According to Vihaan, Ordo has 31,188 lines of code in languages like CSS, which adds the colors, borders, backgrounds and fonts. Ordo also uses JavaScript, which creates interactive effects such as adding tasks, managing dates and showing users their daily workload.

Unfortunately for the Sinhas, the 2020 competition was canceled due to COVID-19. The brothers spent the next year working on perfecting Ordo, and when school was back in session, they asked Pangaio about entering in 2021.

This past March, Ordo was judged at the regional competition, which Neiv and Vihaan were able to attend live. They found out their program had won and would be judged at the state level. The state competition occurred in May, and Neiv and Vihaan were awarded first prize.

“During this journey, we did not realize how much we would get to learn and improve our coding skills,” Neiv said. “This challenge really helped us to sharpen our minds and refine our problem-solving abilities. It was an interesting undertaking that we hope to build on and continue to develop.”

The Sinhas recently added a series of help videos, showing users how to get started and how to use the various features of the program.

Neiv said their goal is to “provide a simple and quality experience.”

Pangaio shared his excitement on the first-place achievement for Neiv and Vihaan.

“WCMS is extremely proud of Neiv and Vihaan as well as all of the hard work and effort they put in to make their Ordo project very successful. I know they had lots of fun throughout the process and learned so much along the way,” he said. “They both epitomize what it means to be ‘Zephyr tough’!”

Ordo is free to use with an account, accessible on all devices and is available at ordo.today.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Vihaan (left) and Neiv Sinha, Whitehall-Coplay School District students, won first place at the Pennsylvania Media and Design Competition in May.