A watchful eye: A freshman’s up and coming grade tracking program


(Courtesy of John Exterkamp)

Screenshot of Exterkamps Program.

      Students may often have trouble tracking all of their grades. However, there is hope, as Freshman John Exterkamp created a program dedicated to graphing grades.

      Created with the coding language, known as, ‘Python,’ the program will allow students to see a graph of their grades recognize trends, and make changes when needed. 

      Forget needing to meticulously track grades and devise ways to improve  grades, Exterkamp’s program outlines time periods of success, so that students can determine the changes they need to make to improve.

      “It uses Schoology’s API which is something that allows my program to use keys, which the user gives me, to retrieve their grades,” said Exterkamp.

      The website for his program is readily available for students, even though it is in the early stages.

      As the program is in its early phases, it is no more than the Schoology grades section with a multi-color background. However, there is more to come in development. 

      “In the future, this website will have a login system that allows users to track their grades over time. Students will log in then see their progress via a graph. The data will be recorded on an encrypted SQL database.”

      An SQL database is a secure place for a program to store data, it will prevent anyone from stealing any information given to the site.

      Learning to code is a hard endeavor, even with a simplified language such as Python. Exterkamp’s journey goes to show anyone can do it.

      “I wanted to find a way to look at my grades over time and graph it so I can watch what kinds of grades I’m getting,” said Exterkamp.

      Exterkamp learned Python by himself, building upon a love for building things. 

      “I kind of self-taught myself, [along with] watching a lot of Youtube videos and just kind of exploring it and doing what you want, anything you want to do just look up how to do it and you’ll slowly learn it.

      For many, coding can be a very rewarding process, it allows you to build a finished product with very little investment in tools and materials. Something similar is true for Exterkamp.

      “I knew that he was fascinated with programming. He would spend many hours watching YouTube videos and buy books on coding and programming to read just for fun,” said Exterkamp’s mother, Allison Roth.

      ‘Python’s’ syntax is very close to English, unlike other languages such as Java or C#. The language uses less code than traditional languages, while more limited in certain areas, ‘Python’ is a powerful tool for a multitude of tasks.

      The simplicity of ‘Python’s’ syntax makes it easy to learn and create beginner-level programs. It is also supported by Schoology’s API.

      Exterkamp was inspired by a computer technician for middle school, Andrew Martin. 

      “​​I first met him during STLP in middle school but got to see him over the summer when he employed me to help with a new MacBook deployment. Now I talk with him every once in a while, stopping by after school,” said Exterkamp.

      Through his programming journey, he learned in many different ways. 

      “From a young age, John has always been interested in how things work. In preschool, it was a fascination with pipes, plumbing, construction, and motors. As he grew older that fascination moved towards discovering how electronics and circuits worked,” said Roth.

      Exterkamp worked on other projects, one of them was an email bot that he developed based on a program he made designed to auto-read his emails. 

      “The email bot I made at the end of last summer. It was intended to be sold to a guy on discord but he wanted the program for malicious intent. So, I declined the trade,” said Exterkamp.

      For students who want to learn ‘Python,’ their website has good documentation and tutorials and the coding community has a lot of content ready for beginners.