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Mobile Computing | News

Verizon Challenges Students To Develop Their Own Apps

Verizon kicked off its third annual Innovative App Challenge on Monday. The program challenges teams of middle and high school students to conceptualize and create mobile apps that solve problems in their schools and communities.

Teams of five to seven students and a faculty advisor from any middle or high school in the United States can register for the competition at verizonfoundation.org. The deadline for submissions is November 24 and winners will be named in January.
One of last year's winning teams was a group of girls from Resaca Middle School who built an app to help visually impaired people navigate buildings.

Verizon will select winners at three levels:

  • Best in State — One middle and one high school in each state will be selected as having their state's best app concept. Winners who do not advance to the next round will have access to a self-guided app-development course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab App Inventor team.
  • Best in Region — Twenty-four middle and high school teams from the West, Midwest, South and East regions of the U.S. will be picked. Those that do not advance to the final round will receive virtual training on coding and support from the MIT Center for Mobile Learning.
  • Best in Nation — Finally, eight national winning teams will receive $15,000 cash grants and new tablets for each member of their teams. Along with onsite and virtual training from the MIT Media Lab, Verizon will assist their teams in taking their apps to the Google Play Store and they will present their apps at the 2015 Technology Student Association National Conference.

Teams will be judged on whether their ideas solve challenges in their communities, include STEM principles and are creative, unique and innovative. No coding or experience or mobile devices are required to enter.

One of last year's winning teams from Resaca Middle School in Los Fresnos, TX, developed an app they called "Hello Navi" that assists visually impaired people in navigating inside buildings. The faculty advisor of the all-girl team, Maggie Bolado, said they came up with the idea for the app in order to help one of their classmates who is blind.

Bolado said, "I never dreamed my students would develop an app that would earn them such recognition. They were even invited to the White House Science Fair and demonstrated their app in person for President Obama."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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