October 23, 2014

Home-Schooled Florida Teen Creates ‘Jurassic’ App

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Most kids who are obsessed with Tyrannosaurus Rex end up playing with figurines or poring over dinosaur-themed books. Not Evan Frost. Instead, the 13-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens, FL, turned his interest into an app he developed for Android phones.

“I’ve always liked dinosaurs since I was pretty young, so I wanted to pick something I would have liked when I was obsessed with dinosaurs,” says Frost. “And I thought it was a pretty easy concept.”

Evan Frost

Frost’s main inspiration for the app, Jurassic Sounds, stemmed from one of his favorite writers, Michael Crichton and his novel Jurassic Park (Knopf, 1990). And when you’re already proficient in Java, Python, CSS and HTML, knocking off an Android app is just an regular day’s work—particularly for Frost, who has been home-schooled by his father, Nick Frost, ever since his school, Holland Northlake Day School in Palm Gardens, closed in 2008, when he was in the middle of third grade.

Today, the seventh grader spends most days at home tackling his regular school work, while also writing short stories, books, graphic novels, short films and now, apps.

What does his father think about the fact that Evan has surpassed him in his programming skills? It’s a good sign. “My ego can handle it,” says Nick, who is self-employed in real estate and finance. “It means I did a good job.”

Jurassic Sounds is fairly simple in its appeal. It plays dinosaur sounds matched to the correct creature, featuring a digital soundboard to enhance play. Frost downloaded royalty-free sounds, he says, and then put them into a free, online editing program, Audacity, to beef them up and add reverb and different layers.

The app is currently free—and has more than 100 downloads, says Frost. It can be found on his website, HiddenNinjas.com, which also features many of his original stories, which he’s operated since the age of nine.

Yet it’s clear that Frost also has some business aspirations to match his creative endeavors: in his next upgrade, Frost plans to charge a dollar per download.

Frost is also ambitious about his writing career. “I’ve finished 10 short stories and two books, which we’ve submitted to contests,” he says. “But we have no wins as of yet.”

Inspiration for Frost comes from writers including J.K. Rowling, H.G. Wells, and Crichton, but also, not surprisingly, from programmers including Notch (Markus Persson), the creator of the online game Minecraft. One day he hopes to program games “as big and exciting as his are,” he says. Currently Frost is coveting a Das Keyboard like the one his hero Notch uses, which has no markings on the keys.

Is that on the horizon? “Eventually,” says Frost.

 

 

 

 

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Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at www.laurenbarack.com.

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