Waiting hours to do grocery shopping might seem like a waste of time, but the experience proved fruitful for Ridgefield High School student Isabella Tuccio. She came up with an idea for a computing technology application — “HeadCount” — making her one of three top finishers in Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz’ COVID-19 Computing Challenge.

“It was an honor to be selected for the Lieutenant Governor’s computing challenge,” Tuccio said. “I wanted to help both consumers and businesses with HeadCount.”

Her idea was to have a mobile app letting customers know how many people are in a store or restaurant at a given time. The app would also tell customers the maximum number of people allowed in a store or restaurant and predict potential wait times.

The app she envisioned would also help businesses forecast daily foot traffic in order to ensure the safety of its customers.

Tuccio came up with the idea after being frustrated waiting in line to enter Trader Joe’s with

her whole shopping experience taking several hours.

“My idea’s main purpose was to reduce the amount of time we all have to wait in line,” she said. “I learned a lot from this experience!”

Lt. Governor Bysiewicz had challenged students in grades 3 through 12 to propose an idea for a computing technology application. She invited Connecticut students to develop ideas for apps, websites and/or computer programs that could help defeat the spread of the disease, and aid and inform Connecticut residents.

A ninth grader at RIdgefield High School, Isabella was selected along with two other high school students for honors in the Connecticut Covid-19 Computing Challenge.

RHS business teacher Jesse Peterkin had assigned the COVID-19 challenge to his computer applications students this spring after hearing about it from retiring RHS Principal Stacey Gross. “I thought the challenge was an excellent opportunity to give students a voice and a platform to come up with ideas that might help our community during a difficult time,” Peterkin said. “Many students embraced the challenge and we had several virtual brainstorming sessions for students to help enhance their ideas.”