Herbert Morrison Technical students create website to track COVID-19


Herbert Morrison Technical students create website to track COVID-19

Observer West writer

Thursday, July 23, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -While many students used the lockdown period for leisure, study and rest, others such as Suneil England and Jason Clarke used their time to create the COVID-JA website, which is being used to track the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases, recoveries and death all around the world.

As members of the JPS Energy and Engineering Club at the Herbert Morrison Technical High School, it was a no-brainer for Clarke to create the website.

Clarke, a grade 10 student, told Jamaica Observer West that because he initially wasn't happy with the limited news about COVID-19 in Jamaica, he decided to create his own means of collecting information and so https://covidja.ml was born.

“COVID-JA was created during the partial shutdown of the island when we had a lot of curfews. My parents love to watch the news and especially during this period. The news was on for several hours during the day. I noticed that news on COVID in Jamaica was not as frequent as news on COVID in other countries and so I decided to create a platform in the form of a website where anyone could access news on COVID in Jamaica, in their own time,” said Clarke.

“I designed the website to be modern and appealing to both children and adults incorporating elements such as effects and animations and an appealing colour scheme. I then used modern technology and strategies to ensure that it will perform well on all devices,” he further explained.

Suneil England, a grade 11 student at Herbert Morrison and fellow clubbite, improved upon Clarke's idea by building a Web app, which collects information directly from the WHO (World Health Organization) and gives viewers access to real time information.

“Jason's website is a framework that I use with the API (Application Programming Interface) to collect data in order to track the number of confirmed, recovered and dead cases from all over the world. So, I asked Jason to give me the code because I am going to put my Web app into his website. I spent a couple weeks trying to create it. I had to start over a couple times because I got a few variables wrong, but eventually I did do it and Jason and I merged our codes together and created it,” revealed England.

Clarke said that merging with England was beneficial as he was able to enhance the website by adding a daily COVID tracker which is linked to the data from the WHO as he previously had to manually update the website every time a new case was reported in Jamaica.

Kevin Coke, teacher, the creator and club advisor for the JPS Energy and Engineering Club at the Herbert Morrison, is happy that corporate entities are taking note to partner with students in various initiatives. He noted that even though JPS did not fund the project, “it is because the club was formed why this initiative was possible”.

“The main goal of the Engineering Club is to facilitate innovation through project-based learning. Technically, what we do is to provide a space or a home for those who I consider are a cut above the rest, in terms of wanting to do more than what is offered to them at the high school level. What we give them is a space to create, solving problems or create ideas. The young men [Clarke and England] are a part of the club and they are specialists in IT. Technical education, in my view, isn't given the spotlight and the energy that it should have gotten. It has been one of the greatest experiences supervising these kids to see the level of innovation, and all it needed was proper guidance, leadership and time. Now they are helping Jamaica to deal with it, and the world at large, to inform them about the COVID-19 pandemic. They were working just the same even though school was out. I feel like the future of Jamaica is in good hands and if we get more support from whichever entity, whether corporate or government, we will move forward better,” expressed Coke.

Allaine Harvey, programmes officer at JPS, is very impressed with the young men and reiterated the vision of the partnership.

“The JPS Energy Club is a part of the schools Engineering club. The aim of our club is to expose students to energy education in a practical way. We also empower the club to come up with initiatives like the Covid-19 app and any other necessary technical solutions for future partnership/ funding. All in all, our involvement with the school is a long-term partnership that will facilitate their growth and development in the field of energy,” said Harvey.

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