Northport High School juniors Erik Keifer and Dilan Piscatello learned a powerful lesson from their teachers: “to never give up and to keep persisting.” They put that mantra to the test in March when they began to work together to build a trivia and debate gaming platform for iOS.
Following school closures and quarantine regulations, Erik, like many, was feeling disconnected from his friends and teachers. “I missed talking about sports, music and pop culture,” he said. “I wanted to design an app to bring me closer to those people.”
With Dilan’s help, Erik’s original idea to create a sports talk show gravitated into a trivia game with a debate platform. The app, “DopeIt,” connects people through a mutual love of sports, music, pop culture and movies.
Each month, the topics rotate to engage players of various interests. The trivia section offers users a chance to earn points by answering multiple choice or true or false questions based on the month’s topic. The catch is, users are only allowed three wrong answers per day. The blog discussion also allows players to earn 0 to 250 points by answering a single short answer question, which changes weekly based on theme.
While Erik is the master behind the game’s content, Dilan is equally as crucial to the game’s development. He put six years of coding experience to the test when translating Erik’s ideas into useable code.
“Just like you can learn English or Spanish, you can learn app development,” he said. “It’s a language shift.”
The duo was determined to get the app approved by the end of the school year, to which they were successful, but not without a few roadblocks, having had to tweak the program several times before it’s launch on June 1.
Erik thanked his Northport teachers for their lessons on perseverance. “From this app, I’ve learned that things in life don’t come easy. From their words, me and Dilan were able to keep pushing forward. If I didn’t have my teachers, I don’t think I would have been able to do that.”
Dilan added, “I hope people can look at this app to start their own passions. I think it’s the perfect time to start.”
During a video conference with Dilan and Erik, Superintendent of Schools Robert Banzer congratulated the two on their feat, acknowledging their hard work and dedication to staying connected during a difficult time.
“It’s great to hear these kinds of stories,” he said. “We’ve been working really hard to keep people connected and it’s hard because its new for people. To know that you two took the initiative on this and to know a little bit about your motivation, it’s just fantastic.”
Additionally, Mr. Banzer thanked Erik for his Letter to the Editor, published in the New York Times on May 31, which credited the hard work that Northport-East Northport staff, administrators and teachers put into the district’s distance learning plan.
Erik wrote, “Online learning is dope! I like making my own schedule and I learn better watching the recorded videos over and over again.” He even suggested that, once classes resume, teachers record their lessons so that students can re-watch the material if they are confused or for studying purposes.
Mr. Banzer said that the district is working on a learning plan for the fall that considers different scenarios and will be seeking feedback from many groups, including students.
In the meantime, Erik and Dilan will remain diligent in producing content for DopeIt with plans to feature music related questions in July, followed by pop culture in August.
“It’s always a joy and a pleasure to connect with our students.” Mr. Banzer said. “Congratulations Erik and Dilan on what you’ve done.”