South River High School Students Win National Mobile App Design Competition; Will Work With Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to Develop App

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Melanie Ortel
Verizon’s National Innovative App Challenge Aimed at Boosting Students’ Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

EDGEWATER, Md. – A team of high school students from South River High School in Edgewater is one of 10 winners of a national competition to develop mobile applications that address a need or problem in competitors’ schools or communities.  The South River team’s Study Buddy app will help students develop better time-management skills to get assignments done on time.

The competition, the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, was created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association to help boost student engagement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math, or 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.   

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab will work with the South River High School team to refine its project.  Verizon will provide the team with professional support and training to help bring Study Buddy to market.  The final product will be made available for download from Google’s Play Store.  In addition, South River will receive a $10,000 Verizon Foundation grant to advance STEM education at the school, and each team member will receive the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, courtesy of Samsung Mobile.

“The Verizon Innovative App Challenge gave five South River students – and the entire school – a chance to shine on the national technology stage,” said Maryland State Sen. John Astle (D, District 30).  “The fact that these students are one of only 10 groups to win ‘Best in Nation’ is a real honor for them, their families, teachers, school and community.  We’re proud of everyone who was involved.”

More than 470 student teams from across the country submitted concepts for the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.  The South River team consisted of five students with guidance from Terry Roberts, a school advisor.  Students also received tutorials from Verizon’s 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 leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM education programs used in middle and high schools across the U.S.

In working with the MIT Media Lab to develop their winning app, and make it available for download from Google’s Play Store, the students will learn how to use the MIT App Inventor tool and the basics of coding.  If the Study Buddy team builds its app by June 7, it will be invited to present the app at the National Technology Student Association Conference in Orlando, Fla., later that month.

The 10 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.

Another Verizon Innovative App Challenge will be held in the fall.

“It’s clear that technology enhances the students’ learning experience, and it was delightful to see the care and thoughtfulness they put into developing a solution to a problem,” said Mario Acosta-Velez, Verizon’s director of state government affairs for the mid-Atlantic region.  “We’re impressed by their creativity, their ability to collaborate as teams, and their interest in developing a mobile app.”

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 6.65 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities.  For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit www.verizonfoundation.org; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).

Samsung and Galaxy Note are registered trademarks of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 98 million retail connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with nearly $116 billion in 2012 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 183,400.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.