September 1, 2022

Meet the Interns: Team Zygotes

From creating a digital pet that keeps students motivated, to working on real world website projects, read how our high school interns grew their technical and creative skills.

This summer, Coded by Kids hosted 18 interns through our Tech and Innovation Internship and OpportunityPHL mentorship programs, which connects underrepresented students in Philadelphia with industry professionals. Broken up into teams, the students worked together to solve problems, gain valuable advice from mentors and learn from our partners during site visits and virtual workshops.

Team Zygotes, made up of Project Manager/Developer Afnan A., Lead Web Developer Tahsin Z., Lead UI/UX Designer Hilary W., and UI/UX Designers Khilola S. and Ava H., worked together solving problems that impact other high school students like them.

Think Like A Founder

The mission of Coded by Kids is more than just tech education, we aim to teach our students about innovation and entrepreneurship. So this summer we asked each group of interns to Think Like a Founder. Tahsin, Team Zygotes’ Lead Developer, explained their process: “We iterated through many ideas and failed many times to come up with genuine problems that had plausible solutions. But every time we failed, we learn more about the ideation and validation process.”

After rounds of brainstorming, the group settled on a Chrome extension that keeps students motivated with the gamification of learning. Their problem statement was:

Students struggle with staying motivated and focused doing monotonous school work. School isn’t very engaging and doesn’t reward students as much as it punished them. Our Idea: fuse education with gaming to make school more fun and engaging and keep students motivated.

Why did they choose this problem? As high school students, this was something every member of the group could relate to. But they knew they had to go beyond their personal experience and interview both other students and teaches, as well as read scientific research on the subject. “For our solution to work, it has to be easily adoptable by both students and teachers, can’t try to drastically interfere with the teaching process, and has to enhance the learning experience, not try to overhaul it entirely,” Tahsin explained.

To accomplish their goal, the group came up with three core solutions to this gamification idea. First was the Pomodoro Timer, a technique used by students where they study for a period of time, take a break, and then repeat that cycle. Second, they wanted to harness one of the features that make traditional video games fun- the progression of leveling up. Finally, they created a mini-game for the students to play during their timed breaks, allowing them to unwind before getting back to work.

These core solutions came together to create Prodo! This tool harnesses the connection that kids develop with their digital pet, which levels up as the student completes their school work.

Draft Studios Website

In addition to creating Prodo, we asked the group to work on a real world project: two new webpages of the Draft Studios website. First they made a Careers Page that explains what each role at Draft Studios is responsible for and directly links to apply for each position. Second the group created a Past Interns Page, which contains testimonials and past intern projects. UI/UX Designer Khilola explains the goal of this page is to “serve as a way for anyone interested to get a glance into the work that interns have done and what they’ve gained from being an intern, as well as for Draft Studios to continue bringing on new talent.” This project gave the students experience working for a client, with required deliverables and an established brand and website to take into consideration.

Internship Takeaways

Every member of Team Zygotes grew their technical skills this summer. Although some had prior experience in tech, they all went into the internship wanting to learn new skills. “I came to this internship with very little experience in UI/UX, but I wanted to expand my horizons with design…Though my prior skills in art and design aided in my learning, there was still lots to learn and difficulties to overcome” said Hilary.

Tahsin really appreciated how the internship challenged them. “Our experience wasn’t overshadowed by the fact that we’re high schoolers…I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but they sort of pushed us into the water. Not so much that we started drowning, but just so much that we knew the fear of drowning.”

The group was also very appreciative of the non-technical growth, from the workshops that taught them how to build their resume or manage their finances, to the site visits that gave them insight into different work cultures and allowed them to meet professionals in the tech field. “We networked a lot with different companies and we got to talk with developers and learn how far they have come. It was an inspiration because I want to follow their footsteps and eventually be where they are right now” said Khilola.

When asked what the biggest challenge was this summer Afnan said “As a project manager, leading a team was difficult. I would say the biggest thing we struggled with was communication, but we were able to get past that. And it was certainly a really valuable learning experience, having to constantly adapt and change. And I’m very proud of us for … [being] able to come together and create stuff.”

This 10-week summer internship was made possible by contributions from our sponsors: Peacock, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Comcast NBC Universal, Comic Relief, SEI Investments, and Enterprise Holdings. Special thanks to Exyn Technologies, Bank of America, and Cxmmunity for facilitating workshops.

Interested in sponsoring future programs? Contact us by emailing

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