Fostering Student Creativity Through the Innovative App Challenge

Each year, Verizon holds the Innovative App Challenge to increase middle and high school students’ interest and knowledge in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and mobile technology. Students work together to develop an original mobile app that addresses a need in their schools or communities. Earlier this month, the “Best in State” and “Best in Region” winners were announced, and the “Best in Nation” winners will be recognized on Feb. 26.

One of the “Best in Region” awards went to Ranch View Middle School in Highlands Ranch, Colo., whose students designed an app to address common problems they were experiencing in the classroom. Student Konstantin Zaremski found life to be a bit stressful as a 7th grader. He had trouble hearing the morning announcements and could not always remember the list of websites where he could check grades, attendance and school activities. But when he joined the CODE Club, a group of students interested in learning computer languages, in the spring of 2013, he found the perfect answer to his problem.

“I thought of all the problems and inconveniences I found around the school and put them into an app,” says Zaremski. “I kind of took the bad side and created a solution.”

“Kids would have access to an app that will help make them better students, “says Tiffiny Vaughn, CODE Club sponsor. “It helps them connect to important school announcements and information, events, clubs and activities. The app will help support them as students.”

The idea took off, and in just a few weeks, all 15 members of the CODE Club pitched in to help design icons and build new features into the app. Over the summer, the club decided to enter their newly created app into the Innovative App Challenge.

“When their app won ‘Best in State,’ they danced in the classroom. When it won ‘Best in Region’ for the Mountain West [region], the team went numb,” Vaughn said.

Ranch View Middle School, along with the 23 other “Best in Region” winners, have already won a $5,000 cash grant, plus virtual support and training to help them build out app concepts. 

On Feb. 26, the eight “Best in Nation” schools will be named. Each school will receive a $15,000 cash grant, plus professional support and training to help the students bring these apps to life. Students on each winning team will also receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab and be invited to present their developed apps in person – on their new tablets – at the 2014 National Technology Student Association Conference in Washington, D.C., in June 2014.