By Luca Giannini aged 11 years
Charles Clayton, a student from Brixton‘s Ark Evelyn Grace Academy, set up a business called The Alpha Apps, and has been selected to compete at the UK finals of a science and engineering competition, after his exciting project caught the eye of judges. Year 11 pupil, Charles, now takes his place in this year’s The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition. I caught up with him to find out more:
How did you come up with the idea of the augmented reality comic book video game?
The idea came from wanting to find a way of making reading more interesting for children. We also tried to consider our own skills and what we might contribute to the project. From here we figured out AR is a big trend especially, amongst 10 to 12 year olds. I draw the comic and the programmer helped contribute to the original version of the app.
How did you ‘realise’ your vision, how much help did you get from school?
There were many times where I found it to be easier to quit, the other members of my team had to leave the team due to other commitments, our team work was so strong it became a vital part to the success of our project in other competitions, so it was challenging to continue without them. However, with the advice of my form tutor, Mr Mohammad, I was able to carry on, and I ended up winning a few more awards over the summer 2019. I think this was achieved mostly with this encouragement from Mr Mohammad.
What does it feel like to be going through to the finals?
I’m really excited to be going to Birmingham for the first time! I also know a lot of the younger students were really excited when they found out The AlphaApps is competing in the finals of The Big Bang, it’s encouraged them to compete in the next one by starting up their own STEM projects.
What will you need to do at the finals?
I’ve been told by the judges from the East London round, the focus for The AlphaApps’ AR Comic should be on the marketing aspect. They were impressed with the actual product, yet want to hear more about how it aims to be sold as a business. I’ve spent the last year focusing on the business aspect by developing other smaller apps and seeing how they perform on the app store as well as marketing my brand, ‘The AlphApps’, through Social Media platforms. I also want to network at the finals, by getting to see all of the other incredible projects, which are on display. The Big Bang has a history of hosting the best STEM projects within the UK, so it is great to get the opportunity to speak to the other competitors and share ideas.
What will it mean to win?
Competing alone in this event has been a truly marvellous experience. It showed me everything I need to be successful in a STEM Career. Winning this event is great for me, yet one of the main reasons I want to win is because I know it is a way to continue to inspire the younger students from my school, who were really excited when they heard The AlphaApps may be competing in the finals.
What message of inspiration might you give to our younger readers who want to be like you?
Anyone is capable of getting involved in STEM. I think a lot of younger kids only see their future as what is directly around them, yet I learnt from doing this project that a lot of major companies are interested in hearing from young people and working with us. I’ve had opportunities to work alongside with, and gain the attention, from people including the CTO of Disney Animations, the CEO of Microsoft UK, and range of other professional games developers from other big STEM organisations. These opportunities are all around, wherever you are from, only find something you’re passionate about and get started! This is what I did and now my team ‘The AlphaApps’ is now my business ‘The AlphaApps.