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Local high schoolers' app goes nationwide

Published: Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Some students longingly look out the windows of study halls, hoping rumors of a snow day tomorrow come true.

Others develop an app that is downloaded more than 1,000 times within a week and can answer that question for students across the nation.

Calvin Breseman, Tanishq Dubey and Gustavo Farias are those others.

The trio of Prairie Ridge High School seniors – without so much as a homework assignment or a teacher’s request – decided to create Snow Day Calculator, an Android app that predicts whether a snow day will occur by analyzing information plugged in by the user.

Students from Boston to Detroit and even Houston (profoundly confusing to Breseman) have downloaded the app within the first week of its launch, and it is yet to miss in its predictions.

“Everybody loves a snow day, so we decided to come up with a formula that would predict it,” Breseman said. “We came up with a preliminary idea for an algorithm and decided to make it into an app.”

Dubey said they used a past storm as a benchmark to see whether the formula would work and continued to adjust it to get perfect-to-this-point results. The user inputs basic information, such as how much snow is expected, when it will start and how long it is expected to fall.

From there, the app gives the user the chance of a snow day based on the location. Breseman showed an example of the app’s accuracy by inputting the same information from a student in Portland compared with a student in Boston. While the information was the same, the student in Boston had a 57 percent chance of a snow day compared with 100 percent in Portland.

“We haven’t had any false positives,” Breseman said. “We hope to add about 80 more cities in the U.S. before the end of break.”

The trio said they plan to make improvements to the app, including a feature that would automatically gather weather data from the user’s location so no manual input would be necessary.

The program, published by Boreas Applications, is already the highest-rated app of its kind in the Google Play Store. Dubey said they also hope to make the app, which is free to all, available for the iPhone in the near future.

Dubey said the early success of this app has the group wanting to publish more in the future.

“You’ll be sitting at the computer programming it out thinking this is cool, but after a while it gets super repetitive because you do the same thing over and over again,” he said. “But the coolest thing is seeing all these people out there using something you made. Seeing it appear on your phone makes it worth it.”

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