14-year-old Jace Billingsley developed ‘Class Translate’ as a way to help non-English speaking students use school materials. Now it’s free for everyone.
Palmetto, FL — A tech-savvy 8th grader from Manatee County decided to help Ukrainian students transition to a classroom in Florida.
Jace Billingsley attends Buffalo Creek Middle School, where several non-English speaking Ukrainian students enrolled last fall.
Jace said he started developing “Class Translate” as a way to help one student in a class understand and participate in the material.
“The interpreting service made it a little difficult to talk to him,” said Jace. “Sometimes the school wouldn’t allow it on certain days, and other times it just didn’t work out.”
According to Jace, Class Translate uses the Google Translate API or “Application Programming Interface”. But his program goes beyond his Google Translate with additional features that can be applied to classroom settings.
This includes a back-translation component that lets you check in real-time whether words were interpreted correctly. Class Translate also transcribes as you work, allowing users to download and save the entire log.
Coding and polishing new software isn’t how most 14-year-olds spend their free time, but Jace Billingsley isn’t most 14-year-olds.
“I don’t like making games because once you play it, that’s it,” he said. “I like building apps that make a difference.”
Yes, it’s an app, plural.
Two years ago Jace created an app called “Code Blue”. This is the software used by medical personnel when a patient goes into cardiac arrest.
According to Jace’s teacher, Thomas Lahey, Jace’s new software is more effective than other translation tools.
“I could type in what I wanted my students to do and see if anything was missing in the translation and rephrase it so the students could complete their work,” says Lahey. say.
Jace’s skill and ingenuity are impressive, but his teachers are even more moved by his compassion.
“Give certain kids the tools and resources to do things and they’ll be proud of you,” Lahey said.
Jace’s app, Class Translate, won last year’s Congressional District App Challenge.
His Code Blue app won last year.
Jace and the other winners will head to Washington, DC this spring to showcase their work.