ROUND ROCK, Texas - A group of Round Rock ISD elementary and middle school students is developing a mobile app that would help during a school shooting. The app would let first responders know the exact location of students in the school building which could help kids exit faster and safer.
They presented their plans to the Round Rock ISD Director of Safety and Security Monday, and he told them he'd like to pilot their app in one of the district's high schools.
The fifth and sixth graders are part of the FLL Robotics team. The app idea called SafeExit has already been awarded first place in a competition held last month, and they've qualified for regionals on March 7th.
The 11 and 12 year olds, Yash Pawar, Avanish Badham, Ishaan Sampat, Dhruv Patil and Saharsh Gurram, call themselves “Shadow Breakers".
“It's impossible to break a shadow so we thought of crossing the limits and doing the impossible," Sampat said.
The team decided to do a project on main issues in America. Instead of focusing on homelessness or the environment, something more unfortunate resonated with them on a different level: school shootings.
"We chose school safety because of the Florida shooting," Pawar said, referencing the Parkland, Fla shooting two years ago that left 17 dead and 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We wanted to know why so many people were dying from shootings in the USA so we wanted to save people's lives and we came up with this idea and now we are going to implement it," Badham said.
For two years they've been meeting outside of school to develop SafeExit, a mobile app that would help with recovery and reunification efforts during a shooting.
"It’s an app to save the maximum amount of students possible in a school shooting situation to capture the shooter," Patil said.
So far they've already talked to multiple agencies like the Austin Police Department, and the Austin Fire Department.
On Monday at Canyon Vista Middle School, they presented their plans to RRISD Director of Safety and Security Jeffery Yarbrough, and CVMS principal Nicole Haggerty in the form of a skit.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
Dhruv Sampat has been coaching the boys. He has an extensive background in information technology.
“The kids have developed an idea of the app which will help in an active school shooting situation for authorities/first responders to know the exact location of students in the school building and send them safe path maps for fastest and safest exit. This is done using Beacons which will communicate to the app through Bluetooth," Sampat said. "In the Florida school shooting the biggest problem of the police was that they did not know how many students are in which classroom which resulted in higher number of casualties and they could not optimize their rescue efforts. My kids' project will solve that problem and also help kids to exit faster and saver with safe path maps sent on the app.”
He adds, “I didn't want them to feel forced to go to an education thing that combined with learning now they have reached a point where they have withdrawal symptoms if we don't meet.”
Yarbrough told the students and coach after they compete next month, he'd like to discuss implementing their app at one of the schools.
Dhruv Sampat says the app would cost $40,000 to launch. They're currently working on a patent and would like to have the pilot up and running by the end of this year.
Anyone wishing to donate to the project can visit the GoFundMe.