Are you curious about Battery Park City? When did it start? How big is it? How many people live there? Want to know about its public art? Who designed the buildings? Well, there’s an app for that and surprisingly, The Battery Park City Authority didn’t design it.
Last September, the Kozyarchuk family was looking for a project that parents Maksim and Anna and their two children, 11-year-old Nikita and 7-year-old Polina, who both attend PS 276, would work on together. “I realized we’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years or more,” said Mr. Kozyarchuk, about his wife and himself. “And the neighborhood has changed so much that we didn’t really know as much about it as we’d like.
“We were inspired by our beautiful neighborhood,” added Ms. Kozyarchuk. “It has plenty of art pieces and different buildings and we know about them, but a lot of tourists or even New Yorkers or our friends coming to visit us don’t know about it. I thought it would be a nice idea to have that information in your hands.” The family decided to develop an iPhone App about Battery Park City. They divvied up the tasks during a family brainstorming session around their dining table.
Mr. Kozyarchuk, who is a computer programmer in financial services development did the coding; Nikita did research and marketing. He built the marketing page, a flyer they are distributing. Polina tested every new version of the app as it was produced, looking for bugs and leaving electronic sticky notes for her father. She also drew the app’s icon. Ms. Kozyarchuk, a financial services consultant in her day job, became the project manager and oversaw everyone and came up with ideas that determined the app’s structure, concept and scope.
Initially, they hoped that Nikita would be able to help with the programming, since he is learning HTML and a little bit about Python, but, Mr. Kozyarchuk says, “It turned out to be more technical than I would have liked in some areas, so it required a decent amount of technical literature and technical development background.” It did whet the kids’ appetite for coding, though. Nikita, who seems eager to build a website, is looking forward to learning more as he moves along in middle and high school. Polina is also gung ho, wanting to start learning to code next year.
The final version of the BPC app was published in February. It’s free at the App Store. Asked what they learned and how it felt to publish the app, Nikita replied, “I learned that the neighborhood used to be kind of a beach. I never knew that.” Polina grinned and reacted, “It was really exciting because I got an iPad since everyone in the family had an electronic device but me.” In fact, the family needed to make two Apple purchases. iPhone apps must be written, tested and viewed on Apple products. Since the family only had PCs, they purchased a Mac to write the program and Polina’s new iPad made her testing possible.
“It’s really exciting to see the kids getting excited about something,” responded Ms. Kozyarchuk, summing up the family’s experience. “It’s also really important for them to see how an idea becomes an app, what goes into it and that there are people behind everything that they see on their tablet or phone.”