Got a test coming up but want a fun way to study?
Anmol Parande has an app for that.
The 14-year-old Vernon Hills resident has developed and released to the Apple store an application called InstaQuiz for use by children and adults who want to study or quiz themselves for a challenge.
"It's a way to push me into studying more, and for other people who have the same problem and have trouble studying, it will help them more," Anmol said.
His mother, Sangita, recalls her son's love of technology began in front of a computer when he was about a year old.
"He would play the 'Blue's Clues' game and other educational software. That's how he got introduced to computers," she said. "He was familiar with using the keyboard and the mouse to play all those games at a very young age."
Following his dad's interest in technology, Anmol got a book that explained the basics of programming. But Anmol said the first step to creating an app is an idea -- and his was fueled by his love of trivia.
"It's fun for me, and I thought it would be fun for other people too," the Hawthorn Middle School North eighth-grader said. "There are not many trivia games that are good ones. Maybe I can make one of the good ones. If I can get enough questions to ask, then it would really flourish and people could be learning as well as having fun. That was really appealing to me."
Anmol said the basic quiz app featured questions added into a database he created. Gradually, the app became more advanced, including a studying function in which the user can create and upload questions and multiple choice answers. He created two formats -- multiple choice and question-and-answer that tests for speed.
The app is separated into categories for math, science, history, geography, literature and miscellaneous, which includes sports, technology, business and fine arts. The user can choose the age range for questions -- ages 8 to 10, 11 to 13, 14 to 17, 18 and above, and all ages.
The current app can only be used in a single-player mode, but Anmol is developing a way for use by two players.
After developing the app for a year, InstaQuiz was released to the Apple store in November 2013. The free app can be used in iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices.
"It was pretty exciting for me. My first reaction was let's go look it up on my iPad and see if it's there," Anmol said. "I texted my friends, emailed, called them and told them about it."
Not only are his friends using the app, Anmol said, but some of his teachers use it too.
"My geometry teacher has liked it and was playing it in class one day. My language arts teacher also likes it. He said, and I think he was joking, that maybe in the future he might make a test using it," Anmol said.
John Reid, Anmol's language arts teacher, said what he likes most about the app is it was developed by one of his students. Teachers want their students to expand what they learn beyond the classroom. The fact that Anmol motivated himself to come up with this app that can encourage students to have fun and continue learning is inspiring, he said.
"This is the type of thing we're looking for in our students, to be self-determined to develop something like this," Reid said. "It shows he will likely use skills like this in his life later on."
The challenge Anmol continues to address when improving the app is making it look good. He said he has received some criticism about its design.
"I'm working on that," he added. "My friend is helping me, thinking of designs I can make."
Anmol said there is interest and potential among youth who want to learn programming. While releasing an app at his age may be unique, he admits, kids may need help getting started.
"The interest is probably there, but they are not doing it yet because they don't know how to start or maybe they are not making themselves known," he said.
Sangita said the family is proud of Anmol's accomplishment because he took the initiative to teach himself how to develop the program and released his product to the masses.
"To put it out there to the market for others to use is not done very often, not accomplished at his age," she said. "I find that is unique and something to be extremely proud of as a parent."
While Anmol enjoys technology, he keeps busy with other activities, too. He plays clarinet in the school band and is a competitive swimmer and tennis player. He also uses his trivia knowledge and competes with the Scholastic Bowl and Science Olympiad team.
Anmol still has plenty of ideas to develop his next app. One idea involves entering a topic into an app that will offer videos, latest news, websites and books related to that topic for use in research papers.