When six high school students from Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware, learned about Verizon’s third annual Innovative App Challenge, they knew it was their opportunity to make a difference. The program, which challenges student teams to develop mobile application concepts that address a need or problem in their communities or schools, sparked an idea with Joy Lin, Adam Udovich, Minji King, Jason Kitston, Milli Bravo and Julia Menardy.
Their idea: How to take the “yuck factor” out of science-class animal dissections.
After witnessing many of their fellow students’ negative reactions to dissecting once-live animals, the team saw the need for a virtual alternative to standard dissections. Guided by group adviser, Steven Field, the team designed an app concept called “VirDoc,” which enables students to virtually dissect animals on a screen.
The concept earned the students Best in Nation honors and was one of eight winning designs among 1,300 submitted nationwide. The team also received $20,000 to further support STEM initiatives in their high school. The team will also receive personal guidance from experts at MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning to help turn their concept into a working app.
The students have high hopes that their app will provide a significant benefit for users, including vegan and vegetarian students who feel uncomfortable dissecting once-living animals or those squeamish about blood. Additionally, the app could potentially save schools money, replacing the need for a continuous inventory of animals used in classroom dissections.
According to the team, the App Challenge competition reinforced the importance of teamwork and commitment. “We realized that developing an app idea that has a secure foundation and is supported by strong evidence, reasoning, and facts from research required lots of brainstorming and dedication in order to provide users with the best experience possible,” said team member Minji Kong.
Sheldon Jones is a public relations manager with Verizon Wireless. Follow him on Twitter at: @VZWsheldon.