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Schools Named as Finalist for Nationwide Competition from Fairfax County

Mark Twain Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School among nationwide schools in the running to win Verizon App Challenge.

Photo from Patch file.
Photo from Patch file.

Verizon Announces Best-in-State Student Teams in National App Challenge

Two Teams from Alexandria, Virginia in Running to Win Verizon Innovative App Challenge Aimed at Boosting Interest in STEM

LAUREL, MD – Eighty-one teams of creative middle and high school students have earned the title Best in State in the second Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a national competition in which students design a mobile application concept that addresses a need or problem in their local schools or communities. Among the 81 teams are two from Alexandria, VA: 

·        Mark Twain Middle School, for its app concept GENE-I-US Labs, that would educate users about the different types of genotypes and encourage students to learn through the app's game.

·        Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology for its app concept, STEMwork, to provide women with knowledge about current developments in STEM areas and advice about developing a career in STEM.

The competition was created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association to encourage students to use technology to help solve local social issues. Student teams nationwide – and with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests – submitted more than 770 app concepts, which made selecting the winning teams highly competitive. Nearly 1,300 teams entered the contest, and almost 40 percent of them were from underserved schools.

“Last year’s Innovative App Challenge delivered outstanding apps and we are excited to see more innovative and creative concepts with this second competition,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education and technology programs for the Verizon Foundation. “We are thrilled to see students as young as sixth graders identifying problems and conceptualizing solutions that can be developed into a usable app.”

Best in State teams are eligible for the next round of the competition, in which Verizon and the Technology Student Association on Feb. 4 will name 24 Best in Region middle and high school team winners from the West, Midwest, South and East. Each team will earn a $5,000 cash grant for its school, and faculty advisers of winning teams, along with up to two colleagues, will participate in an online course called “Teaching App Creation with MIT App Inventor,” taught by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Center for Mobile Learning’s app development experts.

 On, Feb. 19, the Innovative App Challenge competition’s final phase will conclude with the selection of eight Best in Nation winners, chosen from the pool of 24 Best in Region teams. Best in Nation winning teams will earn their schools an additional $15,000 cash grant to further develop or support a program in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM subjects. And each team member will receive a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America. 

In addition, the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Mobile Learning will provide onsite and virtual training on coding and support using MIT App Inventor to the Best in Nation teams as they develop their apps, and Verizon will help actualize students’ app concepts, making them ready for sharing and distribution. One avenue for students to share their apps will be the Google Play store.

In June, the members of the eight winning teams will be invited to present their apps in person – on their new tablets – at the 2014 National TSA Conference in Washington, D.C., courtesy of Verizon.

The Best in State teams that do not advance further in the competition will soon have access to a self-guided app-development course developed by the MIT Media Lab’s App Inventor team. The course will teach the teams how to take their apps from concept to completed, user-tested apps, under the direction of each team’s faculty adviser.  To see the list of the Best in State winners visit www.verizonfoundation.org/appchallenge

The Verizon Foundation is focused on improving teaching and learning, particularly through the use of mobile technologies to support STEM education. Since 2000, the foundation has invested more than $300 million to support education initiatives.

 

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