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According to a recent Pew Research Center survey on Teens and Technology, smartphone adoption among American teenagers has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive, with a majority of teens having an always-on connection throughout the day.
But another pattern is emerging, where teens are no longer just consuming technology but producing it to meet their needs.
One unique group of tech creators hails from South River High School, a magnet school in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Last fall, five female classmates, all rising seniors and part of their school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program (STEM) program, came up with an idea for a mobile app to help students prioritize homework, track assignments and study for upcoming tests. They called their app “Study Buddy” and gave it a mascot named “Chester.” Their creation was one of 10 winners in the Innovative App Challenge, sponsored by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association (TSA) and Samsung. For their efforts, their school received a $10,000 grant and each of the five girls received a Samsung tablet. More than 470 teams of middle and high school students submitted designs for educational mobile apps that incorporate STEM and address a real need or problem in local school communities.
The five “stemists,” as they like to call themselves – Jasmine Hall, Megan Prass, Gelsey Jian, Maryam Ermin-Sinanovic and Heritage Weems – are just back from the 2013 National Technology Student Association Conference held the last week of June in Orlando, Florida, where they presented their “Study Buddy” app. They are proof that there’s no minimum age required when it comes to creating technology.