LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Luke Pisano says he knew nothing about computer science until 7th grade. But the Green Mountain High School senior must have been a quick learner.
“I tried to make a social media app like Instagram, but then that turned into going down a whole search engine path and trying to make a custom search engine alternative to Google,” Pisano recalled.
Not many 7th graders try to take on Google, but Pisano realized the traditional search engines couldn’t help him do his research in school.
“I was doing a project on teen vaping, and I was getting everything blocked because the school doesn’t want you looking up anything to do with vaping,” Pisano said.
That’s when IMASSEwas born. It’s an acronym that stands for It’s My Awesome School Search Engine. While it can be used outside of schools as well, IMASSE is specifically geared toward middle and high school students. IMASSE filters out blocked result and lets students find accurate, reliable information.
Dustan Middle School computer science teacher Doug Starkey says that’s more important than ever.
“Part of our job is to really help educate on reliable sources and what’s safe and what’s not, and that just because you can Google it doesn't mean it's real,” Starkey said.
In addition to the search function, a chrome extension also allows IMASSE users to generate citations for their sources. And the latest addition is IMASSE Classroom, which allows schools to earn money for searches. Pisano is donating 50% of the ad profits from search results generated in a school back to that school.
“My goal is to try to get as many middle and high schools to use this because I feel like it’s a great way to give back to schools and it’s a great research tool for students,” Pisano said.
Those who are not affiliated with a school can also use IMASSE and a portion of ad revenue will go to education non-profits.