Fueled by a desire for creation and with support from their parents, 10-year-old twins, Zara and Zenubia break barriers and inspire their peers to unlock new possibilities with technology
Curiosity can lead to remarkable things.
Earlier this year, 10-year-old twins Zara and Zenubia Khan became the two youngest people to earn the Microsoft Power Platform certification after they learned to build apps. Their journey to app development with little or no coding knowledge began with their parents, who both embraced a growth mindset and encouraged creative expression and self-discovery from an early age.
It all started from the twins’ curiosity after overhearing their father’s conversations during his meetings as he worked from home and often mentioned Microsoft Power Platform during his Teams calls.
Having overheard that it was an easy tool to learn, they thought to themselves, “If it’s so easy, why can’t we try doing it?”
This personal challenge to learn something new led the girls to use Power Apps as a tool to build applications. The result, applications powered by technology that solved real-world problems faced by their loved ones and their friends.
In just 2 weeks, the Zara and Zenubia built a low-code/no-code app for their dad to better track their expenses, a book rating app, a puzzle app and a peanut allergy app that which allowed their friend to scan barcodes and quickly identify what they could or could not consume, while avoiding a possible allergic reaction.
Zara and Zenubia‘s father Adeel Khan, a Microsoft Technical Specialist, is an example of how embracing a growth mindset can nurture curiosity and creativity in any child’s continuous learning journey.
From an early age, the twins’ parents encouraged creative expression which paved the way for technology as an enabler in bringing their ideas to life during their teenage years.
Adeel attributed the twins’ success to their curiosity and the girls both being independent self-learners.
By limiting their access to technology and social media till the age of 8 and encouraging reading as the main form of learning, the girls had minimal distractions, which allowed them to ideate freely. Through this, they were able to explore imaginative play as they discovered the world around them and unlocked their potential to pick up new things and skills at a faster pace.
Aside from spending time on technology and learning new things, the twins also enjoy being outdoors, and enjoy cycling, riding their scooters and swimming.
To keep the girls engaged during the pandemic, Adeel saw an opportunity to expose Zara and Zenubia to the world of technology by introducing them to Microsoft Learn which included apps and resources that would lead them to create their very first Microsoft Power Platform app—an expense tracker that reads data from an Excel spreadsheet and helps users create a budget.
The first app was just the beginning. Having realized that they enjoyed building new things as it gives them a sense of fulfilment and ownership, the twins also built a puzzle app for themselves as well as an allergy scan app for their cousin to help her with her dietary restrictions.
Sample mobile app interface of the allergy app Zara and Zenubia created using Power Apps, which helps users identify their allergies and manage dietary restrictions
Sample mobile app interface of the expense tracker app Zara and Zenubia developed using Power Apps, built to help users keep track of their daily expenses easily
Failure: A pit stop to success
To stimulate the kids intellectually, both Adeel and his wife rarely offered help immediately.
They would motivate the kids and encourage taking breaks before working on their project again as they figured out challenges on their own.
“If you don’t make failure a taboo, then you can come out successful,” said Adeel. The advice helped the girls understand that it’s okay to fail as they learnt from their experiences.
Driven by the hunger to learn more, the twins were resourceful in solving challenges on their developer journey. Through their LinkedIn page, they would participate in user communities to exchange ideas and learn new tips. The twins also shared their love for creativity and technology know-how on their page.
Through learning from others in the community, the girls could quickly overcome roadblocks or failure, expand on their interests, and constantly find new inspiration for creation.
Breaking barriers and inspiring young girls to discover technology
Zara and Zenubia are now exploring technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and aim to create apps as solutions to problems faced by people around them, with a goal to create positive societal impact on the wider community.
The girls want to help their friends embrace technology and inspire more girls to adopt STEM and technology with Power Apps.
They also hope to also inspire their peers globally that regardless of age and gender, and advocate for continuous learning and the boundless possibilities that come with a growth mindset.