BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Today nine middle and high school teams from across the country were awarded top prizes in the fifth annual Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge, a nationwide contest that encourages students to design mobile app concepts aimed at creating solutions for societal issues in their schools and communities. DePere Middle School students were named the winner of the national app challenge Fan Favorite award after its Pass It On app concept garnered 11,269 public votes. Additionally, eight student teams were named Best in Nation winners by a panel of experts for their inspiring mobile app concepts.
The Best in Nation and Fan Favorite award winners will receive a total of $20,000from the Verizon Foundation for their school, club or organization, tablets for each student team member, the opportunity to build their concepts into working apps with experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference inOrlando, Fla., in June 2017. Winning teams include:
- Pass It On – an app that allows students to report not only bullying but also positive behaviors through their mobile device to school staff. (DePere Middle School, DePere, WI). see video *Fan Favorite Winner
- Empower – an app that connects people with autism to employers, volunteers and caretakers in a convenient and effective way (Sharon Middle School,Sharon, Massachusetts). see video
- In-Reach – an app that helps people with PTSD log their symptoms to better determine their triggers and provides access to forums about local PTSD specialists (North Pole Middle School, North Pole, Alaska). see video
- Waste Free America – an app that grocery stores and restaurants can use to communicate with individual local users, who will then pick up edible food the stores and restaurants cannot sell and transport it directly to agencies in need (Capital Day School, Frankfort, Kentucky). see video
- Farmersbook – an app that uses a social media-style platform to create an economically and environmentally friendly marketplace for home and hobby gardeners to sell their produce to individuals looking for fresh, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. (Meeteetse Junior High, Meeteetse, Wyoming). see video
- See Something. Say Something. – an app that prevents teen suicide by combining real-time crisis intervention with community and social engagement (Taos Academy Charter School, Taos, New Mexico). see video
- Under My Wing – an app that addresses the high number of assaults among young adults by offering self-defense educational tutorials, emergency contact features, and integrated recording capabilities to increase security (Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Connecticut). see video
- Take Me There – an app that can be adapted to an individual user's needs to provide accessibility information beyond what a typical mapping tool includes, such as costs, walking distances and accessibility ramps locations (STEM High School, Redmond, Washington). see video
- Soteria – an app that guides pedestrians through San Francisco on safer commuting routes by using Google Maps and crime data, and includes features such as an automatic rerouter, the SFPD Twitter feed and an emergency call function (Girls Who Code Intuit, Mountain View, California).see video
"The jobs that will define our future are in fields like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and it is the mission of Verizon Innovative Learning to ensure that all kids have an equal chance at taking advantage of these opportunities that can lead them to better economic futures," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation. "The app challenge -- a hands-on learning experience that immerses students in a real world project, is one way we engage students and encourage them to think about how they can solve important problems with technology."
In this year's app challenge, more than 1,800 middle and high school teams from across the country submitted mobile app concepts that were reviewed by a panel of judges assembled by TSA. The panel composed of education and industry experts selected eight of those concepts as national winners. In the Fan Favorite element of the competition, the Pass It On concept finished in first place with the most public votes – 11,269.
Over the past four years, winners of the Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge have worked with experts from the MIT App Inventor team to build apps that help blind students navigate schools, track sports-related concussions, make learning easier for autistic classmates and more.
Launched in 2012 in partnership with TSA and the MIT App Inventor team, the app challenge was one of the first programs created by Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation. Over the past five years, Verizon has committed $160 million to provide free technology, access and immersive, hands-on learning to students and teachers, particularly in underserved communities. As part of that initiative, this month Verizon announced #weneedmore, a national campaign to call attention to the millions of students across the U.S who lack technology in schools and exposure to careers in the science and technology sector.