Students win app design competition; will work with MIT Media Lab to develop apps

Ten teams of creative middle and high school students across the country are the winners of a national competition to develop mobile applications that address a need or problem in their schools or communities. The winning apps range from encouraging a community to do more recycling, to making it easier for students with disabilities to take notes in class, to identifying invasive plant species in lakes.

The competition, the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, was created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association to help boost student engagement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The students were asked to use their STEM skills to design app concepts that provided real-world solutions for issues in their communities or schools.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab will work with students of the winning teams to refine their projects. Verizon will provide the teams with professional support and training to help them bring their concepts to market. In addition, each winning team’s school will receive a $10,000 Verizon Foundation grant to advance STEM education, and each team member will receive the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, courtesy of Samsung Mobile.

The winning teams – from five middle schools and five high schools – and their app concepts are:

· Bronx Academy of Promise, New York City – Quest Math, which helps students increase their speed in basic math computations through a mythology-themed game.

· Emory H. Markle Intermediate, Hanover, Pa. – Voice Notes, which revolutionizes note-taking for students with disabilities and organizes information to create effective study guides.

· Friends’ Central School, Wynnewood, Pa. – STEAMnet, which is designed to support creative thinking and virtual collaboration, especially outside the standard school day.

· Forney High School, Forney, Texas – One|Place, which offers students, faculty and the community one location to find details about upcoming school and community events.

· Hampstead Academy, Hampstead, N.H. – Chow Checker, which easily identifies the ingredients of food products to help individuals with allergies avoid problem foods.

· Jefferson Township Middle School, Oak Ridge, N.J. – Invase Erase, which that identifies invasive species that attack the environment and provides solutions to minimize and/or contain them.

· Rock Canyon High School, Highlands Ranch, Colo. – CaringHands, which increases awareness of global problems and allows the user to donate directly to charities supporting solutions to these issues.

· South River High School, Edgewater, Md. – Study Buddy, which helps students develop better time-management skills to get assignments done on time.

· Spalding Catholic High School, Granville, Iowa – AgNote MAX, which makes it easier to track all aspects of farming.

· STEM Center Middle School, West Fargo, N.D. – Recycling Bin, which encourages members of local communities to increase recycling efforts and reduce the need for landfills.

More than 470 student teams from across the country submitted concepts for the Innovative App Challenge. The students, working in teams of five to 10, were guided by faculty advisers and received tutorials from Verizon’s Innovation Center engineers, who created instructional videos on app design and development. The submissions were housed on the Innovation Portal of Project Lead The Way, a leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM education programs used in middle and high schools across the U.S.

In working with the MIT Media Lab to develop their winning apps and make them available for download from Google’s Play Store, the students will learn how to use the MIT App Inventor tool and the basics of coding. Teams that build their apps by June 7 will be invited to present them at the National Technology Student Association Conference in Orlando, Fla., later that month.

Another Verizon Innovative App Challenge will be held in the fall.