DYLAN MAHALINGAM

Daily Point of Light # 3065 Nov 3, 2005

Dylan is nine years old. When he learned about the effects the recent tsunami had on the people living in Southeast Asia and East Africa, he decided he needed to help in some way. He organized a few fund raising dinners with the help of his parents and raised over $900 for the survivors. The money was sent to India, to help a specific disadvantaged fishermen community and specifically used to replace fishing boats and nets in affected villages near Chennai. His contribution made a significant difference to this sea-side community which did not receive any assistance prior to this help reached them. When he finished this project, he started another one – this one to last forever.

After the tsunami hit Southeast Asia, he noticed that the kids at school and outside of school had a lot of questions about the tsunami and some of the information they were hearing was frightening. There was a lot of information about the tsunamis that they did not fully understand – what generates a tsunami? Can anything be done to prevent one from happening in the future? Are there ways to minimize the impact of a tsunami? They wondered if there were ways to warn people of an impending tsunami and if they can know when the next one may occur. By asking multiple questions, Dylan learned a lot in the process. Dylan decided to create a Web site to teach children 14 and under about tsunamis, how to watch for warning signs, and how to protect themselves if they are ever in an earthquake-prone area. He decided that this cannot be a one-student job so he assembled a team of like-minded individuals and with the help of his friends and teachers, he started a website called “Killer Waves” that describes the history of tsunamis, its impact, and recovery efforts following a tsunami, precautions and safety measures. The website contains several original drawings, interactivities, maps and other visuals to help a variety of age groups benefit from a visit.

Dylan spent his entire winter vacation along with the other teammates to develop the website. The website, on average, took about 10-15 hours weekly of each kid’s time over three months. During the development of the website, they ran into several obstacles: several technical difficulties were involved in building a website. The team had a specific focus in mind, and they delegated work based on individual strengths.

Each piece they worked on was a collaborative effort; the graphics would be completed by one person and passed to another who would animate them, and so on. If any technical roadblocks were uncovered, the team would come to the coaches for advice. They helped them get past obstacles with the components they were creating and also assisted them in debugging what they had already done. The team came up with several remarkable ideas, some of which they were unfortunately unable to complete, due to time-constraints.

There is an inextricable bit of each of them within each piece of their work; their personalities mesh so seamlessly that it is nearly impossible to tell where one person’s work ends and another’s begins. In the end, though, what really matters is the final project; a culmination of the fastidiousness of five invaluably diverse, dynamic and buoyant personalities. The site gets a hit of several hundred users per day and is growing and can be viewed at http://www.ammuirivinti.com/04oct/01797.

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