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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Whizz-kid, 11, set on cracking water shortage code

Candice Soobramoney

At age 11 Kabir Budlender talks computer coding a mile a minute.

He is advanced and informed beyond his age and has aspirations of improving the lives of communities around him by using his programming skills.

The Grade 5 pupil at The Ridge School in Westcliff, Johannesburg, recently came first in the Excellence in Education Awards inaugural coding challenge category in Melrose Arch.

The national competition, open to public and private schools in various age groups and categories, celebrated creativity in the integration of Apple technology into teaching and learning.

The participants in this category had to code a website concept.

Due to the severe drought in Cape Town, Kabir developed the Water Calculator, a website to manage water use in drought crisis that is also interactive. At this stage, it is still a demo version.

The second phase would entail getting the working table up and running and incorporating Bluetooth technology that would connect to a tap.

This would allow for data to be uploaded directly to a cellphone.

From there, Kabir, who began learning information technology in Grade 2 and attended a holiday school to learn block-based coding, intends on coding an app from the website.

He hopes it will go live next year.

“Section 27 of the bill of rights states that all people have a right to healthcare, food, water and social security. All of these things are important, but the one that I chose to focus on was water.

“I would like to live in a world where it is a reality that everyone has water. However, this is not the case because the country is in a drought, which means there is not enough water for everybody.

“Therefore, we all have to be conscious about how much water we use. We need a way where all people can keep track of how much water they use in an easy and efficient way,” said Kabir.

Asked about the benefits of the website, he said: “Insert what you used the water for, for example, washing the dishes. Then type in how much water you used. If you want, you can also type in the time. The Water Calculator can then give you a total of how many litres you use as you use it. You can either take a screenshot and make a folder or photo album or you can print it.”

He said this would allow households to become conscious of their use and reduce their consumption if need be.

Kabir, who plays the violin and piano and is part of his school’s orchestra, believes everyone has a right to water “so use it wisely”.

For his efforts, he won headphones and his teacher, Daniel McLachlan, an iPad.

Kabir, who enjoys flight simulation and aviation technology, has ideas on what he wants to study after he matriculates, possibly becoming a pilot.

His mother, Nasreen Rajab-Budlender, an advocate, said she was amazed by Kabir’s programming knowledge.

But after she reflected, she said there had been signs that his love for computers and technology began at an early age.

“When he was a toddler he once fell asleep holding onto a USB cable and would attempt to climb onto our briefcases to reach the computer.”

She said her son booked all their domestic and international flights, showing a maturity beyond his years.

His father, Steven Budlender, is also an advocate and Kabir has a younger brother, Imran, 8.

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