We have been using the Microsoft Power Platform for many years now and Microsoft’s vision for a low code application builder has been inspiring. Today we are working with many organisations coaching them on how the platform and be an enabler to process improvement and efficiency. This story of Kazuki, a 14 year-old boy who digitally transformed a child day-care facility is inspiring. Well worth a read below:
Kazuki is a 14 year old boy living in city of Komaki – Japan. He has been an IT enthusiast since he was little. He was diagnosed with autism when he was young and has Dysgraphia, which is a condition where a person has difficulty writing.
“My son was diagnosed with autism spectrum when he was one years old. He had difficulty communicating with me throughout his younger years. When he started elementary school, he struggled to write at all, so doing homework was very difficult for him. He could read, but just not write. By the time he was in middle school, it was just too hard for him to go schooling at all.” Ms. Kokubo – Kazuki’s mother
Since the local schools nearby require assessments and studies to be written, Kazuki hasn’t been able to go to middle school. This led Kazuki to become interested in the digital world. By the age of 10, Kazuki first got hold of his mother’s smartphone, and eventually a laptop he borrowed from his afterschool-care center.
“He became so interested in computers that I gave him a book on self-building custom PCs and that really got him excited further. But I must admit, as a mother, I wanted him to go to school like the other kids and I once confiscated his computer for some time to focus on learning. I then realized it would be best for Kazuki to pursue his interests as much as possible and that’s where Kazuki really started to show his enthusiasm and shine.” – Ms. Kokubo – Kazuki’s mother
He has been visiting the nearby programming club every week since May 2020 ran by Mayumi Hashimoto. Mayumi introduced Power Apps as a programming lesson, and he quickly became interested in it. Initially, he would learn about Power Apps by looking at how apps were being made demonstrated by Mayumi, and eventually learnt further by self-teaching.
A photo of Kazuki building the Power Apps app at programming club
“I found out about Power Apps when Ms. Hashimoto introduced it to me at the programming club. I started playing around with it since then. It was a bit difficult to begin with as I never had made apps or touched Power Apps before, but once I got the hang of it, making apps with Power Apps was really fun and easy.”
An opportunity to transform the child daycare center
One day, Mayumi asked Kazuki whether he wanted to try out his Power Apps skills with an actual problem. Coincidently, a nearby child daycare center “Tsubomi childcare” – a daycare center for infants and toddlers age 0-3 was seeking someone who could help with their problem. The daycare center recently had started a volunteer childcare program – free of charge to mothers who wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination but didn’t have time or was worried of side-affects while they took care of their children.
With the increasing number of parents putting children to Tsubomi childcare, the daycare was struggling to keep in control of food inventory. Every day, the daycare staff would report to the kitchens to report the required amount of food, but this was difficult challenge as kids often would leave or join through out the day, meaning that the amount of food that needs to be ordered would also change. The staff would have to ask the other partner staff to look after the kids, while they run to the kitchens to update the quantity. They could not simply tell the kitchen staff via phone call, or text as that would mean that the kitchen staff must stop what they are doing, take their gloves off, and wash their hands every time if they were to pick their phones up. It was just too tedious and unrealistic.
Kazuki digitally transforms the daycare in less than a day
He visited the daycare center to listen to what the problems were. Kazuki used Power Apps and Power Automate to make the app with SharePoint as a data source.
“It was my first time working with data. I had not touched Excel much before, and this was all new for me.”
He made sure to keep the screens and controls as simple as possible so that it was intuitive enough to use the app. The staff just needs to enter the name of the person having the food, whether it is for lunch or dinner, and whether it is for adults or kids.
A photo of Mayumi Hashimoto from the programing club on the left, Kazuki in the middle making the app, and the owner of the day care center Ms. Miwa on the right
“I went to the daycare center, and asked how the staff would like to enter the app. I listened to the requirements, and it was easy enough that I could make the app in less than 90 mins”.
The app would automatically calculate the total number of foods required for today, and tomorrow.
Kazuki’s mother was once worried that he would stay at home all day, but now he has been very sociable and enthusiastic. He presents at local Power Platform communities and help other kids who are interested in computers. He plans to “pay it forward” from his experiences by now becoming a teacher himself on Power Apps and Power Automate at Mayumi’s programming club.
He was recently accepted into an all-day programming school and will pursue his dreams starting next year in April.
“When I grow-up, I definitely want to take my career in IT. I may have difficulty in writing, but through Power Apps and computers, I want to do something like this and help when I am an adult.” – Kazuki Kokubo