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For the ideators around you
For the dreamerS within you
Nov 12, 2017, 9:00 AM
6455, Lusk Blvd (Qualcomm)

A g e s  :   1 0  - 1  8 ,  I N   G R O U P S   O F   3 - 5 , 

D I V I S I O N S :  O N E   D I V I S I O N   O N L Y

E X P E R I E N C E   N E E D E D :   N O N E 

B R I N G :   L A P T O P   +   A N D R O I D   D E V I C E

S U P P O R T @ E K A L - A P P A T H O N . C O M

E K A L . S A N D I E G O @ G M A I L . C O M


A Mobile App design challenge


  • Event over. Believe it or not! All prizes were won by girls!

  • See Checklist in Managing your project section (Update: Nov 10)

  • New co-sponsor. Thanks to Sysintelli Inc (Update: Nov 10)

  • Tutorial links for Thunkable and MIT's App-inventor. See Managing your project section (Update: Nov 10)

  • Schedule illustration available. See schedule section (Update: Nov 10)



Do you have an idea?

That is the only question to ask, yourself. Is it good? Is it really good? If you are convinced, we are convinced you can play.

We all love to solve problems, don't we? Wait - are we assuming things? No we are not. Problems don't exist just in class. Every day we learn to solve problems in real life. Let's think... You are not finding enough time to say Hi to a friend who's moved out. You are finding ways for easy pocket money, hunting for coins all the time. You want to see how you'd look in 10 years. Or you think better, and want to solve world hunger.

Well, all the needs mentioned above, are now very popular apps. Check these out:

  1. Yo let's you say Yo to a friend, and that's all it does.

  2. Metal detector helps you detect... well, metal using your mobile phone.

  3. Aging booth ages you instantly, your picture we mean.

  4. Share the meal lets you feed a hungry child with one click.

None of these are related to computers or mobiles, but are just real world issues.

From now until the day of the event, the mentors have one mission on hand. They are preparing themselves to help ideators such as you realize your apps. Oh the barrage of questions and the myriad of problems you bring, they will help you create solutions for them.

Here they are, and watch this space for more...

Jake Stenger
  • quanta
Junior, The Bishop's school, La Jolla

Jake Stenger is a high school junior at The Bishop’s School in San Diego, California. He is fascinated by computer science, physics and math. He has worked with Java and Python and is especially interested in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics.

His extracurriculars at Bishop’s include the VEX robotics team, Model United Nations club, and writing for Quanta, a student run science magazine. In his free time he enjoys playing basketball, surfing, skiing, and mountain biking. He is excited to help ideators develop new programming skills and guide them in turning their concepts into working apps.

Nikitha Gopal
Senior, Scripps Ranch High School, San Diego

Nikitha is a senior currently attending Scripps Ranch High School. She is interested in majoring in computer science in college. She is experienced in Java and is interested in the biotechnology field.

Nikitha has been on her high school Varsity Women's Golf team since her freshman year and also competes in golf tournaments individually. She is also the founder of South Asian Culture Club in her school and is part of Teen Council at her local library. Additionally, she has also been trained in Indian classical singing and dance for eleven years and has been performing from four years old.

Rohit Raguram
Junior, The Bishop's school, La Jolla

Rohit is a Junior at the Bishop's School in San Diego, California and is an active member and captain of their Academic League, QuizBowl, and History Bowl teams. In addition to these, Rohit enjoys participating in speech and debate and MUN tournaments around San Diego and is ready to bring the same passion he has for these activities as a mentor this year.

Rohit enjoys Computer Science, Biology and Medicine, Latin, and Physics among other things and can rarely be seen away from his Saxaphone and piano during his free time. Rohit has extensive experience with Java and Python programming and is excited to share his passion for innovation and tech with this year's appathon participants.

Alina Luk
Senior, Scripps Ranch High School, San Diego

Alina is a senior currently attending Scripps Ranch High School. She has had experience with computer science and bioengineering fields.


Alina is a part of her high school's badminton team and is a volunteer at the Mira Mesa Public Library. In addition, she is a part of JOURNYS (science magazine club), Recycling Club, and National Honor Society at school. She has been playing piano for the past thirteen years and has picked up guitar and a Chinese instrument, called Guzheng as well. As a hobby, she also enjoys reading and drawing.

Devaki is a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, and has an interest in computer science and biology. She has experience with Java and Python, and enjoys working with other students. Devaki started her own science program, Food Lab, that teaches elementary school kids about the relationship between science, cooking, and food. She also plays for her school’s Varsity basketball team.

Devaki has played the piano for 12 years, as well as the flute for 9 years, and she tutors 5th graders from a nearby elementary school. Devaki spends her free time baking, taking photos, and watching football.

Senior, Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego
Devaki Rajiv

Julia Yang, 16, is a high school junior at Canyon Crest Academy, pursuing possible career paths in computer science and business. She is also intrigued by the combined concentration of computational linguistics and its application in artificial intelligence.


She is president of the American Red Cross of CCA, as well as CCA’s Mock Trial Team and Future Business Leaders of America Club. She also enjoys participating in Parliamentary Debate and Model United Nations. She has served as CCA’s School Site Council Secretary for the past two years. Julia is also the principal harpist of San Diego Youth Symphony’s Symphony Orchestra. As a lifelong musician in both piano and harp, she also enjoys volunteering at different venues by giving performances to the public.

Junior, Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego
Julia Yang
Liam Tan
Freshman, Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego

Liam Tan is currently a freshman at Canyon Crest Academy. He enjoys learning new topics in engineering, math, and biology. He has had years of experience in Java programming.

Liam volunteers to aid in teaching Java every week. He has played violin for 8 years and also plays tennis. At school, he is involved in the Artificial Intelligence Club. Liam was a contestant in the design competition for San Diego D4SD. He wishes to meet all the participants in this years Appathon.

Managing your project

Final checklist before you leave for the event

  • Are you already part of a team? If not, e-mail rightaway, and you might get access to other individuals. Given the time constraints, it will be very hard for us to place individuals at the event.

  • Arrive early. We suggest by 8:45 am, and make sure you are connected to the WiFi.

  • Please complete as many of these Youtube tutorials as possible, prior to the event.

Master check list

  • Laptop 

  • Android tablet/device for your team

  • Power cables for your devices. For safety, be sure to come with your devices fully charged.

  • USB cable to connect between your device and laptop

  • Be sure to familiarize with either Thunkable AND MIT's App-Inventor. That's right. We have decided to honor MIT's App-Inventor based implementations too, if you are familiar with it.

  • Have your user profiles created, and all installations done prior to the event, both on mobile as well as laptop. Give your test apps a dry-run prior to the event, so, on the day of the event, you do not spend time setting up things that could have been done earlier. 

During the app-a-thon

Save off data!

Every software project requires a good version control where you can save off snapshots of your entire work periodically. In the absence of version control, it becomes crucial for you to save off your project state periodically. During the contest, we recommend that this period be every 15-20 minutes. In other words, work along on a master copy, then every 15-20 minutes, use the feature Save app as to create a duplicate copy of the master, and name it as your_app_name_v1, your_app_name_v2 and so on. This could save you a huge heartache.

The Project Manager

In a team project, consider assigning one of your members to be a process manager, who ensures timekeeping, periodic version control, error handling coverage, conventions such as good conventions. Please note that the judging rubric includes points for good process.

A note about sizes

Total App size cannot exceed 25 MB including uploaded media. Please be sure to remain within the specified limits, otherwise, you risk losing your valuable project work, maybe forever, after having spent hours.

Experimental features

The risk of using experimental features during the contest is on YOU. 

Thunkable tutorials

MIT App-inventor tutorial

Thunkable - Tips, Issues, Bugs

Media / Total App Size
Total App size cannot exceed 25 MB including uploaded media.
Video player will only play videos up to 1 MB


[Jake Stenger] Will not report an acceleration of more than 39.2254 m/s^2 on any axis on my Galaxy S6. I don’t know if this is the fault of Thunkable or the sensor itself.


Miscellaneous Tips

When using user input to search for a string in a list, use the “upcase” or “downcase” block found in the Text tab to make sure the casing matches the casing you have in the list

Experimental features - Spreadsheets
The Thunkable documentation is clear and mostly correct on the setup. The part that was wrong as of Oct 22, 2017 is the API endpoint. To get the API endpoint for Thunkable, copy the one provided on Cloudstitch but replace /datasources/sheet with ?dev=true (Example: if the address on Cloudstitch is
Change it to NOT
Which is what the documentation incorrectly says.

  • Remember to click “sync with your template” in Cloudstitch.

  • To access any data from the Spreadsheet you must first use the block Get All Data (You don’t have to do this before using the upload data block).

  • Once Get All Data has been called it makes the app faster to not call it again (it takes a second or two to run). Call it only once unless the Spreadsheet changes while the app is running.

  • There are additional necessary details in the documentation: (

Mentor work

Working a known runtime error on Thunkable by Liam Tan

Click on image below for more details

Coin guesser by Jake Stenger

Browsing around his room for spare bills, Jake found a jar full of coins - nickels, dimes, cents, quarters, dollars (coin). If only there was an easier way to tell how much approximately was in that jar would make life a little easier, he felt. Why not come up with a simple mathematical formula for this? Or even better, why not design an app that the neighborhood bagel store could use to count the money in the tipping jar? Which is exactly what Jake Stenger, one of your mentors did, and he put together a small video for all of us to learn how.



Watch Now

Online resources


Subscribe to the Thunkable Youtube channel

MIT's App inventor

Several problems can be addressed by looking up the same problem in the context of MIT's App inventor. For example, if a particular error you are facing is not handled by Thunkable, chances are that you will find someone who is experiencing a similar issue, but on MIT's App inventor - and learn about ways to solve, fix or workaround the problem. Subscribe to MIT App inventor Youtube channel.


Below is a schedule timeline that the organizing team has come up with, but this should be very useful for you too, in order to manage your project. You may refer to this during the event to keep time.


In association with


NOTE: These rules are work in progress, yet have been included here to serve as early information for participants looking to sign up.

Team makeup

  • Size:  3-5 members

  • A Mentor will be assigned to each team, each mentor will support multiple teams


  • Each team will be provided with a stationery kit including drawing charts and markers

  • Each team must use their own development (laptop) and rendering (phone, tablet) device

  • Each team must provide a storyboard of the app display faces, at the end of the event.

    • Hand-drawn or electronic copies are acceptable

  • Each team must provide flowcharts of the app operation

    • Hand-drawn or electronic copies are acceptable

  • Downloading of images and sounds is allowed, no constraints for the duration of the competition.

  • Searching for Thunkable development descriptions (control block descriptions, etc.) is allowed


  • Judging will be done by mentors, adult supervisors and we are considering a jury panel as well.

  • Below is a comprehensive judging rubric. The exact points for each is confidential.

    • Concept: Is your idea original? Does it meet the requirements of the theme or prompt? Does it include the prop?

    • Design: Did you do a good storyboard prior to implementation? How is your flowchart? Does your design process including any error handling?

    • Implementation: Is your implementation clean and readable? Are your variables/blocks named appropriately?
      How effective is your code (usage of variables, data structures, loops)? How robust is your solution and how good is your error handling? Did you end up using the prop? How? Did you achieve what you set out to do? Is your app functional? Did you at least arrive at a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

    • Team dynamics: While we might not have time to have every project presented, teams get an opportunity to present their work to judges walking by. Factors for judging include how well the app is presented, how good is the individual participation within the teams.


NOTE: Prizes are per category, however, as we revise the rules and grading rubric, this is subject to change. The amounts are confirmed, though.

Grand prize winner

Runner up

Special mentions

Other prizes




T-shirts / Gift cards

Ekal Vidyalaya is a grassroots movement involved in taking education to the child instead of the other way round. The main activity undertaken in this movement is to run one-teacher schools, in the remotest rural & tribal villages, at the bare minimum cost of a dollar a day. Ideas generated in order to execute such a mission include a mobile vehicle equipped with low cost computers making day visits to the remote sites, thereby providing access to information.

This app-a-thon has been conceptualized by close associates of Ekal Vidyalaya, who have incidentally been part of the team of inventors behind MIT's App Inventor. The perceived shortcomings in App Inventor have motivated them to launch their own company Thunkable, a drag-and-drop tool for anyone to build native mobile apps - for both Android and IOS (this is work-in-progress).

Suffice it to say that Ekal Vidyalaya and Thunkable are working together to organize this event to encourage the ideators around you and the dreamers within you.

Final checklist before you leave for the event

  • Are you already part of a team? If not, e-mail rightaway, and you might get access to other individuals. Given the time constraints, it will be very hard for us to place individuals at the event.

  • Arrive early. We suggest by 8:45 am, and make sure you are connected to the WiFi.

  • Please complete as many of these Youtube tutorials as possible, prior to the event.

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