Governor’s School @ Innovation Park Earns Regional Honor in Third Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Students Now in Running to Win Best-in-Nation in National Program Aimed at Boosting Students’ Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Block It Out app, designed by students at Governor’s School @ Innovation Park

MANASSAS, Va. – It’s two down and one to go for a group of students from the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park who are one of 24 Best in Region teams in the third national Verizon Innovative App Challenge. The team will make a live virtual presentation to a panel of judges that will determine eight Best in Nation winners.

Under the Innovative App Challenge, middle school and high school student teams were asked to design a mobile application concept that addresses a need or problem in their local schools or communities. The Governor’s School student team came up with an app concept called Block It Out, which will minimize distracted driving, a problem that is especially prevalent among teens in America.

The Best in Region teams consist of 12 middle schools and 12 high schools. Each of these teams has earned a $5,000 cash grant for its school to further develop or support a program focused on science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM subjects.

Student teams from across the country submitted 1,099 app concepts in this year’s Challenge.

“As director of our regional STEM program, I believe that challenges such as the Verizon Innovative App Challenge offer students an opportunity to engage in a real-world project, and to do so in a team-based environment that will enhance their skills needed in the 21st-century workforce,” said Dr. Karen Dalfrey, director of the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park. “Our students enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their innovative thought processes, creativity and communication skills while working on this challenge.”

Doug Brammer, Verizon manager of government relations for Northern Virginia, said: “We congratulate the Governor’s School team, which tackled a particularly relevant issue with their app concept – distracted driving. It’s evident from the students’ concept that they exercised some excellent writing, production, presentation and critical-thinking skills, all of which will serve them well in school and, ultimately, the workplace.”

App Challenge Addresses Need for More STEM Interest, Achievement

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge was created in partnership with the Technology Student Association in response to a critical need to inspire student interest in STEM careers. Student interest and proficiency in these subjects have been stagnant in the United States, especially among women and minorities, although 80 percent of all jobs over the next decade will require STEM skills. Currently, 3 million STEM jobs are unfilled in the U.S., and occupations related to STEM are projected to increase to more than 9 million by 2022.

Verizon is committed to improving student engagement and achievement in STEM by infusing technology into the classroom through a variety of initiatives. The Innovative App Challenge focuses on identifying concepts for mobile apps and encourages students to learn about app development. Because mobile devices and apps play a leading role in the lives of young people today, app development is an effective way to engage them, transforming them from users of technology to creators. Teaching app development empowers students to become builders of technology solutions to everyday problems.

More than 90 percent of the winners from last year’s Innovative App Challenge expressed interest in pursuing STEM careers after learning coding and launching their winning app in the Google Play store. Roughly 70 percent reported increased creativity, teamwork and communication skills, and content knowledge.

Next Stop: Best in Nation

The Best in Region teams now advance to the final round of the competition on Feb. 3, when eight Best in Nation winners – four middle school and four high school teams – are chosen. Best in Nation teams will earn their schools an additional $15,000 cash grant from the Verizon Foundation to further develop or support a STEM-related program. Each team member will receive a Samsung tablet, courtesy of Samsung Electronics America. In addition, MIT App Inventor Master Trainers from the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab will give the Best in Nation teams onsite and virtual training on coding and app development, using MIT App Inventor to develop the teams’ apps.

Verizon, in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, will help the students develop their app concepts, making them ready for sharing and distribution. Apps developed during the first two years of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge have been downloaded more than 26,000 times.

One of the 2013-14 App Challenge winners, an all-girls team from Resaca Middle School in Los Fresnos, Texas, was invited to the annual White House Science Fair to demonstrate its Hello Navi app, which was built to help a blind classmate better navigate the halls at school.

In June, the members of the eight winning teams will be invited to present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Dallas, courtesy of Verizon.

Visit http://verizon.com/appchallenge for more information on the Innovative App Challenge and the other Best in Region winners.

About the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park
The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park (GS@IP) is a partial-day Academic Year Governor’s School program with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. GS@IP serves the school divisions of Manassas City, Manassas Park City, and Prince William County and is housed on George Mason University Prince William Campus. Students attend science, mathematics, engineering, research, and computer science classes at GS@IP in the mornings then return to their base high schools in the afternoons to take courses in social studies, language arts, and electives as well as to participate in extracurricular activities.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management.  Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities.  For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit www.verizon.com/about/responsibility; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).