SVG map based on the St. Louis Zoo with six distinct zones
SVG map based on the St. Louis Zoo with six distinct zones
Graphic based on map data made available by © OpenStreetMap contributors & St. Louis Zoo exhibits

The hippo exhibit in the St. Louis Zoo contains a pool of water bordered by a glass wall. Watching the hippos move underwater reveals why hippos are named after a Greek word meaning ‘river horse’. Their movements are much like the galloping of a horse as they push off the ground to propel themselves around underwater.

The St. Louis Zoo has been a favorite spot of mine since moving to the city. So when planning a project to strengthen my JavaScript (JS) skills, I decided to make a simple, interactive map based on the zoo and its six zones. …


After college I coordinated volunteer groups at a shelter for families experiencing homelessness. The largest service day involved coordinating assignments for 70 volunteers. The shelter had mostly smaller rooms, so I split the group up, with each subgroup working in a separate space on a separate task. This division of work allowed us to accomplish a range of discrete projects while not jamming the halls with lots of movement between rooms or requiring the same project instructions to be repeated from one room to the next.

This highly-organized day came to mind recently as I was building a Ruby on…

Want to build a simple web application in Ruby? Consider Sinatra.

Sinatra is a domain specific language, or DSL, that serves as a lightweight Ruby framework for creating simple web apps. Chances are, you’re already working with Sinatra if you’re reading this post.

While Sinatra doesn’t require you to follow the common Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern for your application, building an MVC app with Sinatra can help you learn how these pieces — models, views, and controllers — work together.

I recently worked with Sinatra to build a database-backed MVC application that uses Active Record. The app helps job seekers…

The magic of regex

My first encounter with regular expressions, or regex, felt a bit like magic. I had just started diving into programming and was looking for a way to remove all punctuation from a string. A StackOverflow page recommended using a regex that looked something like this:


I used the code as prescribed, and voilà, all punctuation disappeared. How the mashup of characters worked was a mystery to me, but it did the job.

Viewing something as magic, though, means most of its usefulness remains hidden, and therefore, out of reach. A recent Ruby project brought me back to regexes and…

I pursued a career in the nonprofit field because I wanted to solve social challenges alongside a group of passionate people. I just left my nonprofit job after 8 years to study software engineering for the same reason.

From prioritizing passion to prioritizing problem solving

Many people enter the nonprofit sector with the hope of aligning their career with their personal passion to better society. I was one of them. When I finished college with a communications degree in 2013, I believed my career would only be meaningful if my job directly supported an important social cause. I felt strongly that working for a nonprofit was the…

Stacey McKnight

Studying full stack development through Flatiron School

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