Eight Student Teams Win ‘Best in Nation’ in National Verizon Innovative App Challenge

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Innovative App Challenge Best in Nation Winners

NEW YORK – Eight teams of middle school and high school students across the country learned today that they are the Best in Nation winners of the third Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Their apps tackle formidable societal challenges such as teen suicide, dyslexia, unsafe driving and global warming.

The national competition, created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association, challenged student teams to develop mobile application concepts that address a need or problem in the students’ communities or schools.

This year’s winners and their app concepts are:

  • Tri-Tech Skills Center, Kennewick, Washington – Safe & Sound, offers teens ways to manage stress and feelings of depression.
  • C M Rice Middle School, Plano, Texas – Mind Glass, offers students with dyslexia options for customizing text to make it easier for them to read and comprehend.
  • Meyzeek Middle School, Louisville, Kentucky – Log ‘N Learn, addresses the problem of unsafe and inexperienced driving among young drivers by providing information about driver education.
  • Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Wilmington, Delaware – VirDoc, provides a virtual cadaver for students to dissect and learn anatomy.
  • Upper St. Clair High School, Pittsburgh – A Look Inside, allows elementary and middle school students to explore the inner workings of different inventions and machines through virtual take-apart system. 
  • Lime Kiln Middle School, Fulton, Maryland – VolunteerMe, provides information about volunteer opportunities in the school or community to take advantage of the younger generation’s interests and willingness to serve.
  • Jefferson County International Baccalaureate, Shades Valley High School, Irondale, Alabama – Vocal, uses a calendar and social media to help people find and volunteer for causes they want to support.
  • Kyrene Aprende Middle School, Chandler, Arizona – Endurvinna, sets up a competitive social media environment that encourages sustainable and green choices.

Addressing a Critical Need for STEM Students, Workers

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is designed to respond to a critical need to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Student interest and proficiency in STEM has 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. By focusing on concepts for mobile apps, Verizon’s App Challenge channels young people’s devotion to their mobile devices into a hands-on learning experience that empowers them to become builders of technology solutions to everyday problems. Learning to develop their concepts into working apps is an effective way to further engage them in STEM-related subjects and transform them from users of technology to creators.

“The Innovative App Challenge has captured the attention of students across the country, and the quality of the more than 1,000 entries this year is evidence of the creativity and talent young people brought to the competition,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation. “We’re particularly proud of the Best in Nation winners, who displayed some remarkable critical thinking and problem-solving skills in developing their app concepts. I’m thrilled this contest has been able to challenge students to get out of their comfort zone and unleash their potential to succeed.”

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. One of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge winning teams from last year was invited to the annual White House Science Fair to demonstrate its Hello Navi app, built to help a blind classmate better navigate the halls at school. Another Best in Nation team from the Bronx, from the first year of the contest, credits the winning experience as the impetus to realize the team members’ passion and potential for greatness. The students’ story is captured in Verizon’s “Potential of Us” Black History Month national advertising campaign.

Tablets for Winning Students, Grants for Their Schools

Best in Nation teams earned their schools $20,000 in cash grants from the Verizon Foundation to further develop or support STEM-related programming. Each team member received a Samsung tablet, courtesy of Samsung Electronics America. Over the next few weeks, 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.

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.

Learn more about the Innovative App Challenge, as well as this year’s Best in State and Best in Region winners at http://verizon.com/appchallenge.

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 Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).

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