Mobile Computing

Verizon Launches App Design Contest for Middle and High School Students

Verizon is holding its fourth annual Innovative App Challenge, a contest that encourages students in middle and high school to design smartphone apps that tackle social issues.

The focus of the contest is on app design, not development, so students don't need any previous coding experience to enter. All they need is "an idea for a mobile app that will solve an existing problem they have identified in their school or community," according to information from the company. To enter the contest, a team of five to seven students must submit a three-minute video and answer four essay questions about their app idea, why the problem it addresses is important to them and how their solution is innovative.

A panel of judges will select one middle school and one high school winner from each state and the District of Columbia. Best in State winners will receive a $5,000 grant for their school and the opportunity to move on to the Best in Region competition. The judges will select three middle school teams and three high school teams from each region: Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Best in Region winners will present their concept in an online webinar to compete for the title of Best in Nation.

The judges will select one Best in Nation winner from each region and age category. Each of the eight Best in Nation winners and one People's Choice Award winner will receive an additional $15,000 grant and an Android tablet for each team member. The winning teams will also receive training and support from Verizon Foundation partners, including the MIT Center for Mobile Learning, to help them build and publish their mobile app. They will also have the opportunity to present their app at the 2016 National Technology Student Association Conference in Nashville.

Judges are looking for entries that include original ideas, comprehensive research, clear explanations and creative presentations. Winning ideas should address a problem that has affected the team members personally or that the team members are in a unique position to solve.

Some of last year's entries are now available through the Google Play Store. 

  • Safe & Sound was built by a team of girls who have experienced depression or anxiety, and the app is designed to help teens with depression find help quickly and confidentially. 
  • Mind Glass was developed by a team of middle school students to help people with dyslexia adjust background colors, fonts and text sizes. 
  • VolunteerMe is another winning middle school app that provides information about volunteer opportunities in the school or community. 
  • Log N Learn was developed by middle school students for student drivers and includes a practice log, quizzes and a driver handbook.

A team of sixthe grade girls won the Innovative App Challenge two years ago for their app, Hello Navi, which was designed to help their blind classmate navigate the school. The girls have now sold their app to a company that is expanding it for use on college campuses across the country.

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is accepting entries until November 24, 2015. 

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].