A team of eighth grade students from Hampstead Academy won a national competition to develop mobile applications that address a need or problem in their school and community. Their "Chow Checker" app will help people with food allergies avoid ingredients they are allergic to—such as milk, eggs, peanuts and shellfish.
Chris Sousa, the eighth-grade faculty advisor for the winning Chow Checker app at Hampstead Academy, said the Verizon Innovative App Challenge demonstrated how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be utilized in a classroom setting with all students, not just those who may have an aptitude for science and math. "The App Challenge completely engaged our diverse group of learners by requiring them to use their creative and language-based skills, along with STEM principles, to work on a real world application," he said. "It was a great overall experience, and winning was just the icing on the cake. Another exciting byproduct of this challenge is that my 6th and 7th grade students are already talking about doing this next year."
Professional support from MIT and Verizon
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab worked with the Hampstead Academy Chow Checker team to refine their project. Verizon provided the teams with professional support and training to help bring their concepts to market. Chow Checker is now available for download from Google's Play Store. In addition, Hampstead Academy and all winning schools received a $10,000 Verizon Foundation grant to advance STEM education at their school, and each team member received a new Samsung Galaxy Note tablet, courtesy of Samsung Mobile.
The Verizon Innovative App Challenge was created in partnership with the Technology Student Association to help boost student engagement and interest in 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.
Fostering innovative ideas in students to solve real-world problems
The Hampstead Academy students' work on the App Challenge is further proof that innovative ideas can be found and fostered everywhere, and at any age. More than 470 student teams from across the country submitted concepts for the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Students received tutorials from Verizon's Innovation Center engineers, who created instructional videos on app design and development.
Ten 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.
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