Houston student’s award-winning app honors his grandfather’s legacy

Jones Mays II has won a global coding contest for young people with his app that detects dangerous or invasive plants.

By Shelly BrisbinJuly 6, 2022 2:53 p.m.Arts and Culture, Texas Sounds, Technology and Innovation, Texas Standard Original

Jones Mays II started coding a few years ago when he took a course in the principles of computing. He’s now a senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston, and he seems to have learned his lessons well, as he just won Apple’s Swift Student Challenge, a global competition where winners receive help and guidance from Apple engineers, as well as coding resources to help them with their projects. Mays’ app is called Ivy and uses machine learning and location information to detect invasive or dangerous plants.

“It detects the top five invasive vines in the United States. So, kudzu vine, Chinese wisteria, Japanese honeysuckle, and vines of that nature… There will be a pop-up of what the vine actually is, for example, how it grows, what it looks like, and most importantly, how to remove it safely.“

“The inspiration for Ivy is actually quite personal. My grandfather in Tunica, Mississippi, had a community garden, and in that garden he grew everything under the sun, from squash and cucumbers to watermelon and corn… Sadly, he died at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s why I really want to honor his legacy and how he would help his community, by building Ivy.

“I actually got a job at Code Wiz Houston and I will be teaching the next generation of students what it means to learn computer science, and even what computer science is… Ultimately, I believe that IT can provide some of these tools for socio-economic economic mobility.

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About Stuart M. McFarland

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