Water-wise preteen cracks the code with winning website
Kabir Budlender coded a website to track household water consumption
When an 11-year-old Johannesburg schoolboy finetunes his award-winning water-saving website, you should be able to track your usage via a Bluetooth chip attached to taps in your home.
Kabir Budlender’s website, which introduces an interactive table to manage water usage, was so impressive that international judges from Dubai and Ireland chose him as the winner of the inaugural Coding Challenge, Grade 4 to 7 category, in the annual Excellence in Education awards.
The aim of the new category in the annual awards, an initiative of iStore South Africa and Think Ahead, was for schoolchildren to use Apple technology to code a website or app concept that could be used to improve the lives of those in their communities.
“I was very aware of the drought crisis in Cape Town because we have family there and often visit. When we went there we really wanted to try to meet the water restrictions, but we needed an easy way to calculate our water usage.
“I knew a website that calculated water usage would be very accessible to people because you don’t need any specific device to use it, you just need a web browser,” Kabir told Times Select.
The schoolboy said in a drought crisis, residents would know how much water they used in each bucket or sink, but would need a way to keep track of their total water usage.
“So the way it works is that you log on to the water calculator website and go to the interactive table, which is still in beta phase. You add your description of your activity such as washing dishes and list how many litres you used. Then the water calculator adds up the water you used each day for all of your activities.”
Although the website has yet to go live, the ambitious schoolboy is already talking about adding a feature that would allow a Bluetooth chip placed on taps in homes to accurately measure water usage.
“It will automatically upload that to the water calculator on your device,” he said.
Kabir’s parents, Nasreen Rajab-Budlender and Steven Budlender, were surprised when he won the prestigious award.
“We were very surprised that he was able to design the website by himself – especially because we wouldn’t have been able to do it!”
Kabir has always been interested in technology.
“When he was a toddler he used to love playing with an old laptop and once fell asleep holding on to a USB cable. He also used to climb on to our briefcases to reach our computer,” his mother said.
Despite his young age, Kabir has come a long way from just playing with computers.
Think Ahead managing director Michelle Lissoos said his website was chosen because it addressed a real issue within not only the Western Cape but the country as a whole.
“The thought and attention to detail of the website made it user-friendly and a source for everyone to engage with, not only people in the Western Cape.
“Water is a precious resource that is often taken for granted, and with this in mind, we thought this website was worth rewarding because it is something that can not only be used in SA, but globally,” she said.
Describing coding as today’s critical language, Lissoos said it was a part of everyday lives and as essential and maths and learning how to write.
“In this world driven by technology, one of the key skills our children need to learn is to code. Learning to code will help our children understand the world they live in. They may not all become software engineers, but they will always use software. We all need to understand how computers work. We use the internet, mobile phones, computers and software in our daily lives.”