Students Build Carbon Footprint Apps using PowerApps

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A picture of Feziwe Khomo, Durban University of Technology LecturerA picture of Feziwe Khomo, Durban University of Technology LecturerA picture showing Durban University of Technology LogoA picture showing Durban University of Technology Logo

My name is Feziwe Khomo, am a Lecturer at Durban University of Technology (DUT), South Africa. I am based at the Indumiso Campus, Pietermaritzburg in the Department of Finance and Management, Accounting and Informatics Faculty. I teach Information Technology Modules to 1St and 2nd year students doing the National Diploma in Information Communication Technology.

In a quest to upskill and infiltrate low carbon thinking amongst groups of students doing the Module Information Systems, an assessment in the form of a three-phase project was presented to the students. The Backward design approach was adopted in outlining the Project in accordance with the learning objectives of the Module. The project objective was threefold: To indirectly encourage students to acknowledge their role and responsibility towards Carbon emission effects, to upskill and introduce students to the Microsoft Power Platform. Lastly, to encourage the practical application of the Agile iterative approach and adopt a design model which are learning outcomes of the Information Systems Module.


The project initiative was highly influenced by the Microsoft Power Platform. Hence, it was infused into the curriculum as a way of indirectly encouraging students to engage with the platform and co-create a solution to an environmental issue, Carbon Emission. Mr. Fanie Ndlovu who initially introduced me to PowerApps connected me with a DUT alumni student, Mr. Gomolemo Mohapi who is currently working for Microsoft. Mr. Mohapi demonstrated the process of registering and gaining access to the Microsoft Power Platform and using PowerApps to the students. He further demonstrated how he had developed a demo App using PowerApps and shared links to resources and material that students could refer to.

A picture showing Power Platform ProductsA picture showing Power Platform Products


In order to kick start the project and encourage the students further, I also developed a mini–Demo App using the platform and demonstrated how I managed to develop the App in 5 minutes. In addition, Mr. Mohapi shared his social platforms and later created a WhatsApp group for students to get assistance whenever needed. In addition, a lesson on Carbon dioxide emission effects was presented by me to the students and provided additional resources related to Carbon dioxide. Further, an Environmental activist from the Peace of Africa organization, Mr. Sibisi was also featured as a guest lecturer in one of our classes to further elaborate on the detrimental effects of Carbon dioxide. Lastly, students were indirectly encouraged to do their own research on the topic, Carbon dioxide as it was required content for App.    

The three-phase project was structured as follows:

  1. Create a Carbon Footprint App for an Imaginary Manufacturing organization (AZB Manufacturers), that would calculate the organizations Carbon footprint yearly data on the following areas: Refrigeration Gas, Electricity, Oil, Paper and travel costs and present the data in a logical manner.
  2.  Adopt a design Model (Use case Diagram /Sequence System Diagram) that will define, organize, and structure the components of the final solution to serve as a blueprint for construction.
  3. Present the design activities of the system and give a brief description of the following:
    - The environment
    - Application components
    - User interface
    - Database

App Content:

  • Carbon footprint calculator that demonstrates the Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) operation.
  •  Educational content that educated AZB Manufacture employees on Carbon Dioxide Emission effects
  •  Provide alternative products that are environmentally friendly that the organization could adopt in order to reduce their Carbon footprint.
  •  Provide measures that could be adopted to reduce Carbon footprint


The three-phase project was over a period of three-month. Students were split into groups, 24 groups from the 1st year students and 13 groups from the 2nd year students. Each group was made up of a minimum of 5 students. In order to finalize the assessment mark, students were required to showcase a functioning PowerApp. During the presentations, questions related to the app were posed to the students and constructive feedback was given. A total of 11 groups that achieved a mark of 75% and above were invited to compete for a place in the next stage, which required only 3 groups to contest for a prize of R3000. These groups were provided with an appraisal scoresheet to use as a guide in ensuring that their PowerApps met the stipulated requirements. The same scoresheet was provided to the panel of judges as a means to evaluate the groups.  The groups were given a week to work on their Apps once again. During this stage, questions were further posed, and constructive feedback given to the three groups by the panel of judges. The groups were scored using a scale of 1-5 marking system for categories outlined on the scoresheet, which resulted in one group winning the R3000 price.


A picture showing a Carbon Footprint App built with PowerAppsA picture showing a Carbon Footprint App built with PowerApps


The project was a success as evidence was provided in the form of artifacts. Students demonstrated their ability to utilize the features and components provided on PowerApps to develop a technological solution, some of the students incorporated Power Automate to improve their solution. Thus, their technical skills were enhanced. Further, student’s awareness and perceptions on Carbon emission effects was broadened, the groups provided remarkable solutions and managed to suggest alternative products. In addition, students and were able to co-create and present the content in a format that was in alignment with their preferred learning styles. The students used videos, text, visual images, flyers, posters and graphs.  Lastly, the students were able to illustrate the application of the knowledge acquired in the Information Systems Module. 


The highlight for me as lecturer was seeing students teaching and learning from each other. The students were not shy to applaud each other during the App presentations and some requested a quick demonstration on how a certain feature was incorporated into their PowerApp. Further, it was heartwarming seeing students working so hard to improve and wanting to demonstrate their improved versions even on a Sunday! Am also excited about the additional links to resources related to the Power App provided to us by Mr. Someleze Diko, a Cloud Advocate from Microsoft who also happens to be a DUT alumnus as well. It is my hope that students will Master the Power Platform going forward and create even better business solutions. Lastly, I am grateful for the support I got from my colleagues and for availing themselves as panel judges, for some it was short notice.  


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