NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- This week nine teams of middle and high school aged students from across the country learned their concepts for new mobile apps are winners of the fourth Verizon Innovative App Challenge. The teams earned their schools, clubs or organizations $20,000 from the Verizon Foundation to further develop or support STEM-related programming, and will now work with experts from MIT Media Lab to bring their app ideas to life.
This year, for the first time, Verizon invited the public to play a role in the Innovative App Challenge by casting a vote for the Fan Favorite app concept. With more than 150,000 votes cast, the app concept POP (Protect our Parks), took home that title. POP was developed by a team of students from Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Wyandotte, Mich., and would enable users to quickly report when parks are in need of clean up or repair.
As in previous years, a panel of judges including educators and industry experts assembled by the Technology Student Association named the additional eight Best In Nation winning teams for their creative app concepts.
The national competition, created by Verizon in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and presented in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, challenged student teams across the country to come up with ideas for mobile apps that could solve a problem in their schools or communities, with no coding skills required.
Submissions for this year's contest demonstrated students' increased interest in tackling pressing social issues, not only in their communities but on a national scale. Many teams' app concepts focused specifically on helping those with disabilities and chronic health issues, such as epilepsy, neurological conditions, autism and mental health. A number of submissions also addressed ways to provide aid for those in poverty.
This year's winners and their app concepts are:
- AutBuddy, an app to help children with autism manage tasks, and to help their parents and teachers communicate, see video (Adventure In Science, Derwood, Md.)
- Diction Defender, an app to help users practice English language skills and master sentence structure, see video (Altona Middle School, Longmont, Colo.)
- FTDC - Force Transmission Data Collector, an app to help prevent concussions on the football field, see video (Pine Crest School, Fort. Lauderdale, Fla.)
- Kidspiration, a kid-friendly career testing app to help children discover potential careers opportunities, see video (West Salem High School, Salem, Ore.)
- Pay It Forward, an app to combat hunger by enabling users to buy a meal for a person in need, see video (Harrison High School, Harrison, N.Y.)
- Pharm Alarm, an app to help people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease remember to complete essential tasks and take medication, see video (Meyzeek Middle School, Louisville, Ky.)
- Fan Favorite App: POP (Protect our Parks), an app to help users report when parks are in need of clean up or repair, see video (Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Wyandotte, Mich.)
- SAFE SPEED, an app to make roads safer by encouraging drivers to adhere to speed limits, see video (Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, Cranberry Township, Penn.)
- Vroom, a carpooling app to help students find rides from afterschool activities, see video (Johns Creek High School, Johns Creek, Ga.)
"Each year, students have raised the bar for the App Challenge and we are continuously impressed by their thoughtful solutions to such a broad range of societal issues," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education and technology programs for the Verizon Foundation. "Getting young people to realize the power of critical thinking and technology to drive change is what this contest is all about," she added, "and these skills will undoubtedly prepare them for jobs of the future as well."
It is predicted that the United States may be short nearly three million high-skilled workers by 2018. While the education system currently sees enough talent in math and science to fill the need for traditional STEM workers, less than 25% of those students enter STEM majors in college and of those that do, 38% of students who start with a STEM major do not graduate with one.1
In June, members of the nine winning teams will present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Nashville, courtesy of Verizon.
Learn more about the Innovative App Challenge, as well as this year's winners at http://verizon.com/appchallenge.
About the Technology Student Association (TSA)
TSA is a national organization for students engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Open to young people enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA's membership includes more than 230,000 middle and high school students in 2,000 schools spanning 49 states. TSA partners with universities and other organizations to promote a variety of STEM competitions and opportunities for students and teachers. TSA is supported by educators, parents, and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. From engineers to business managers, our alumni credit TSA with a positive influence in their lives. Visit the Technology Student Association website for more information.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company's innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon's philanthropic work, visit www.verizon.com/about/responsibility; or for regular updates, visit Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).
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1 Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, 2011, STEM Report