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National Winning Student Teams In Verizon Innovative App Challenge To Show Their Apps At D.C.-Area Education Conference

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., June 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Simulating chemistry experiments to give students better access to science education, and helping visually impaired people navigate inside buildings are among the apps designed by eight winning Verizon Innovative App Challenge teams of middle and high school students that will be unveiled Sunday ( June 29) at the 2014 national Technology Student Association conference.

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a national competition created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the TSA to encourage students to use technology to help solve local social issues. Since the contest's inception in 2012, nearly 2,300 student teams from across the U.S. have entered. Teams submitted more than 1,200 app concepts, and apps created through the contest have been downloaded more than 14,000 times.

"Verizon applauds the winning teams and all the students who entered the App Challenge," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation. "In the words of President Obama, who recognized one of our winning teams at this year's White House Science Fair, these kids not only have big brains; they have big hearts. I think his words are equally descriptive of all the App Challenge winning teams.

"We were tremendously impressed with the awareness and empathy they displayed in identifying problems they wanted to solve, as well as with their innovation and determination in coming up with solutions using mobile technology," Nixon-Saintil said. "Also, we are pleased that many of the App Challenge winners said they are likely to pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math field, demonstrating that we are meeting the program's goal to inspire more students in STEM."

The conference will be held in National Harbor, near Washington, D.C.

The 2014 winning teams – from four middle schools and four high schools – and their respective apps, many are available in the Google Play store for download, are:
  • Helena High School, Helena, MontanaExact 3D Extract, which uses mobile technology to create models for 3D printing.
  • Open Window School, Bellevue, WashingtonHikeAbout, which offers maps for hiking trails and safety information for hikers.
  • Bartlett High School, Bartlett, IllinoisFITTASTICK!, which tracks food intake and exercise, and encourages fitness and weight loss through social networking.
  • Cheney Middle School, West Fargo, North DakotaSnap Docs, which converts hard copy text to editable documents, using mobile technology.
  • North Hills Preparatory, Irving, TexasLeave No Trace, which encourages reduction of energy consumption by displaying information about energy usage.
  • Resaca Middle School, Los Fresnos, TexasHello Navi, which assists blind or visually-impaired people in navigating inside buildings.
  • Westford Academy, Westford, MassachusettsTactillium, which delivers science education through a mobile device chemistry simulator.
  • Jefferson Township Middle School, Oak Ridge, New JerseySuper Science Girl, which inspires interest in STEM-related activities to encourage young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

Roseanne White, executive director of the Technology Student Association, said: "It has been a wonderful experience to collaborate with the Verizon Foundation on developing this STEM-focused app challenge. Mobile technology is such an important part of young people's lives today, and this is a fun and educational opportunity for students to ideate how technology can help solve a problem and learn about creating apps."

Since being named Best in Nation winners on Feb. 26, the students have been working with instructors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Mobile Learning @ The Media Lab, who have provided onsite and virtual training on coding using the MIT App Inventor to bring the students' apps to life. In addition, each Best in Nation team won a $20,000 grant for its school from the Verizon Foundation; a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet for each team member, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America; and a trip to the 2014 national TSA conference, courtesy of Verizon.

The winning app designs were selected by a panel of STEM and industry experts from MIT Media Lab, Samsung Mobile, the New York Hall of Science, the National Academy Foundation, National Geographic, the International Reading Association, National Center for Family Literacy, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, VGo Communications, Cisco Systems and the American Association of the Advancement of Science. Entries were judged based on their clear identification of a need or problem in a school or community, originality, creativity, the viability of the concept, and the applicability of STEM principles and practices.

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