STOCKTON — The idea that students would choose water-wise meals if they had all the information was the basis of the winning app at the third annual H2O Hackathon on Saturday.

West High School sophomores Hadeel Abdul-Rehman, Katrina Amistad, Pranav Banuru and Amrutha Kalle competed in the six-hour challenge as Wolfhack Kappa. In response to a challenge to use 20 percent less water at their school by 2020, they developed an app that would show students how many gallons of water it took to produce and prepare each item on the cafeteria menu.

Coach Jennifer Haut said the concept emerged after the team members realized many of their competitors were focusing on water used for landscaping. Instead, they wanted to let students see the water footprint of a hamburger served in the school cafeteria, for example, starting with the cow and going through the whole process to get it to the lunch line.

Their winning app design also had a social aspect, inviting users to compete with each other to save water by their menu choices.

“I was very, very excited for the kids,” Haut said. “They were equally excited.”

She said the team members, most of them enrolled in West’s space and engineering academy, worked out the problem together during the competition like a “well-oiled machine.”

“We wanted to focus on something different,” she said. “Good collaboration among the students. It was definitely a team effort.”

The annual H2O Hackathon gives students the opportunity to use science, computer programming and problem-solving skills to develop technological solutions. It also encourages them to focus on developing innovative solutions to California’s water challenges.

“I think it’s a really neat opportunity for students to see what is going on out there,” Haut said. “They saw a different group of kids all coding and learning presentation skills. It’s like developing a product and they have to sell it. Another niche that students can be a part of and feel they are part of something.”

Twelve teams from six county high schools, including Tracy High School, participated this year. West High was the only school to send four teams, including Wolfhack Omicron, which placed third. Team members Nathan Cruit, Wilder Escobedo, Jonathan Hidalgo and Raffee Qureshi were coached by Randy Moehnke.

Haut said a few of her students on Wolfhack Kappa were new to the competition, and although they didn’t have enough time to finish their app in the six hours allotted, they were still awarded the top prize. She plans to hang their team plaque in her classroom, and the team members will get $1,000 each, which most plan to put toward college.

Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at drizzo@tracypress.com or 830-4225.

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