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    Date submitted
  • 01-Mar-2018

The Gulp App - Checkin/out


The McGillis School is a K-8 independent school with 460 students. The AfterSchool program is available to all students, M-F, between 2:45 and 6pm. Activities include snacks, outside play, enrichment opportunities, doing homework and other projects. We are three students: two in 7th grade and one in 6th. We met for several hours, once a week for four weeks to help AfterSchool solve a problem. We first investigated three different problems: 1) Use of Space; 2) Student Location/Staff Communication; and 3) Student Check-in and Check-out Process. First we observed the AfterSchool staff and then we interviewed them. After interviewing the staff we focused on solving the third problem: Student Check-in and Check-out Process (and also might have figured out how faculty can also communicate better!).

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

When we first started we thought the customer was just other schools. But then we thought of any place that needs to keep track of people (in our case students). For example: daycares, afterschool programs, summer camps, ski-schools. Then we thought that if this is so simple, it could be used to keep track of employees, people in prison, players on NFL sports teams. Really anything with a roster would work.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

Every afternoon for five days a week over 120 students from grades K-8 spend time in AfterSchool. It gets really crazy busy. We identified the AfterSchool check-in and check-out process as archaic and inefficient. Staff uses paper, which wastes time and is hard to keep track sometimes (not everyone checks in). It is hard to ‘see’ if a student is truly checked in or out which leads to discrepancies. There is no way to search for a student except by hand. The process is also very complex. When a parent comes to pick up their students and wants to check them out, the staff has to find the student. When checking out, it is hard to know where students are in the school because current communication tool is walkie-talkie (which, by the way, is tech from WWII, which is the 1940’s). Students are checked-out by initialing a box with a pen or pencil. Our community would be better if we had an app so that check-in and out is one-swipe and is connected to a database with each students’ really important information (like what they are allergic to) and also more accurate (for charging parents and knowing where they are in the building).

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

Since every AfterSchool staff person has a smartphone, our solution is an app. This app would do two things really well: check-in/check-out with one swipe and allow staff to communicate using existing PTT apps (which is Push-To-Talk, which is familiar to our walkie-talkies). Developing this app would mean creating a prototype, which looks real but only really shows the different screens and would not work for real. This way we could test and gather opinions from the staff and then show a real developer what the app should do. Then we would pay someone to create a simple version so that we could test even more.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

We would to call our app “Gulp”. A gulp is a group of magpies (the McGillis School mascot is a magpie). Here are our sketches and drawings. We show a few screens from the app. There will be a home page and other pages. Here are some features and their benefits: Feature: 4x4 grid with student pics (from picture day). If the pic is green, they are checked-in, if the pic is red the are checked-out. Benefit: easily see each student’s status. Feature: one-swipe to check-in and check-out students like a grocery app we saw. Benefit: process is simplified to less than a second. Feature: app would connect a single staff member with ‘their’ 16-students. Benefit: both faculty and students would know who is responsible for each other. Feature: the app would connect to a database. Benefit: all staff would have real-time access to rosters, allergies, emergency contact, pictures of who is allowed to pick up students and if students are in an enrichment class (and where that class is located in the building). This could even be tied to billing because there will be a time stamp and so it will be easier. All of this data exists now, but is not accessible and it will be. Feature: the app would be completely digital. Benefit: it would save paper and is sustainable. We estimated we currently use 5 reams of paper a year for check-in and check-out. That is 2,500 sheets of paper or 100 lbs of paper that will not go in a landfill. Feature: the app will integrate either PTT (push-to-talk) feature, which is exactly like how the staff uses their walkie-talkies, but does not require another device or texting or both. Each of these will have an auto-fill feature for the most-used sentences. Benefit: communication will be way faster. For example, the sentence: “Can we check out so-and-so from the library” can be automatically sent out with the correct student name with one touch. Feature: the app will have a staff portal. Benefit: staff can have a place to see their own work schedules and any communication regarding work. Feature: the app will have a parent portal. Benefit: Parents can see how much time and money is spent in the AfterSchool program. Feature: the app will save the school money. Benefit: Think of the time it will save. Think of how more accurate billings will be. Think of the energy it will save.