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MIT Media lab To Help Design Contest Winners Develop Mobile Apps

Ten teams of middle and high school students have won a national mobile app design competition and will now work to refine their creations with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab.

Winning teams and the MIT Media Lab will develop the apps to make them available for download from the Google 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, FL, June 28 through July 2.

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge was created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association to encourage middle school and high school students, working with a faculty advisor, to use their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge, their ingenuity, and their creativity to come up with an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community, according to the competition Web site.

The ten winning concepts are:

  • Bronx Academy of Promise, New York, NY--Quest Math helps students increase their speed in basic math computations through a mythology-themed game;
  • Emory H. Markle Intermediate, Hanover, PA--Voice Notes is designed to aid in note-taking for students with disabilities and organizes information to create effective study guides;
  • Friends' Central School, Wynnewood, PA--STEAMnet is designed to support creative thinking and virtual collaboration, especially outside the standard school day;
  • Forney High School, Forney, TX--One|Place offers students, faculty and the community one location to find details about upcoming school and community events;
  • Hampstead Academy, Hampstead, NH--Chow Checker identifies the ingredients of food products to help individuals with allergies avoid problem foods;
  • Jefferson Township Middle School, Oak Ridge, NJ--Invase Erase identifies invasive plant species that attack the environment and provides solutions to minimize or contain them;
  • Rock Canyon High School, Highlands Ranch, CO--CaringHands 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 is designed to help students develop better time-management skills to get assignments done on time;
  • Spalding Catholic High School, Granville, IA--AgNote MAX makes it easier to track all aspects of farming; and
  • STEM Center Middle School, West Fargo, ND--Recycling Bin encourages members of local communities to increase recycling efforts and reduce the need for landfills.

More than 470 student teams submitted concepts for the competition, according to a release, working in teams of five to 10 and guided by faculty advisors. The students received tutorials from Verizon 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 provider of STEM education programs used in middle and high schools.

Winning app designs were selected by a panel of STEM and industry experts from the Verizon Innovation Center, MIT Media Lab, Samsung Mobile, the New York Hall of Science, the National Academy Foundation, National Geographic, the International Reading Association, and the American Association of the Advancement of Science. Entries were judged based on their clear identification of a need or problem in a school or community, originality, creativity, the viability of the concept, and the applicability of STEM principles and practices, according to a Verizon release.

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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