Upper St. Clair High School Students Win Best in Nation

Six 11th graders from Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh are known by their teachers and peers as hard working and passionate about learning. In addition, they possess large doses of curiosity and creativity—two traits that have served them well in recent months.

The students, including Gaurav Bhushan, Michael Nastac, Yein (Christina) Park, Akshay Prasadan, Nymisha Rameswarapu and Vidhi Shah, recently earned the Best in Nation honors in the third annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Their entry, “A Look Inside,” was one of only eight winning designs among 1,300 submitted nationwide.

The team of teenaged innovators created “A Look Inside” because they believe an education-focused app that allows users to capture virtual glimpses into the inner workings of devices and gadgets could help to engage the curious-minded and the “natural engineer” in every young child.

In addition to the Best in Nation honor, the Upper St. Clair students were awarded $20,000 to further support STEM initiatives at their high school.

The team will also receive personal guidance from experts at MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning to help turn their concept into a working app.

The students’ teaching advisor, Pat Palazzolo, Gifted Education Coordinator, helped the students through the app development process—something she says was possible thanks to the residents of Upper St. Clair and the school leadership.

"We are very fortunate to have a school and community with the vision to support STEM learning,” she said. “The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is an especially exciting opportunity for our students because they are engaged not only in STEM, but also in considering the importance of what it means to be human in an increasingly technological society. After all, apps are for people.” 

Dr. Patrick T. O’Toole, Superintendent of Upper St. Clair Schools, stated, 

“I am so proud of Pat Palazzolo and this group of very talented students and congratulate them for being named Best in Nation in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.”

We’re proud of these young innovators too and look forward to seeing what their futures hold.

Laura Merritt is a public relations manager with Verizon Wireless. Follow her on Twitter at: @VZWlaura.