BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (WWJ) -- The Verizon Foundation, in partnership with the Technology Student Association, has opened the 2013-2014 Innovative App Challenge, giving middle and high school students across the country a chance to develop a concept for a mobile app and bring it to market.
The mobile app design competition aims to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math subjects and empower them to create STEM-related app concepts that solve real-world problems in their community or school.
Students have a chance to win Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America, cash grants of up to $20,000 for their school, and the opportunity to team up with app development experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to build and bring their apps to life.
Verizon will help winning teams bring their app to the Google Play store, available for download.
The fastest-growing careers in the United States are STEM-related, yet the country is not graduating enough young professionals in these fields to meet this need. As a result, as many as 3 million STEM jobs have gone unfilled, according to STEMconnector's "2013 EdTech – Revolution in Education" report.
To address this issue, the Verizon Foundation and TSA launched the inaugural Innovative App Challenge last October. More than 1,000 schools from every state and Washington, D.C., registered for the competition, and 471 teams submitted app concepts. The competition engaged more than 3,000 boys and girls from major cities to rural areas including many underserved communities. Nearly 60 percent of the winning team members were girls.
The competition can be a career game changer for students.
"My future has been decided for me. Because of the App Challenge I know I want to be an app designer," said 11-year-old Sherly Quezada, after she and her teammates from the Bronx Academy of Promise were named one of the Best in Nation winners of the 2012 App Challenge.
Said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education and technology programs for the Verizon Foundation: "We created the Verizon Innovative App Challenge to encourage students to collaborate, get creative and use their STEM knowledge to come up with powerful answers to local, everyday problems. The inaugural challenge provided all that and more, as we saw some amazing app concepts and heard inspirational stories from students and teachers. We're eagerly awaiting the fresh, innovative ideas that the student teams will bring to the second challenge."
Added Rosanne White, executive director of the Technology Student Association, said: "The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a unique competition whereby winning teams of students and teachers can advance the goals of STEM education through the development of mobile technology. Thousands of middle and high school students will have the opportunity to showcase their problem-solving, research, design and programming abilities to solve a community need or problem. TSA is looking forward to a second year collaborating with the Verizon Foundation, Samsung and the MIT Center for Mobile Learning so that any student can reach his or her STEM potential."
This year, the Verizon Innovative App Challenge offers more chances to win for teams of five students in grades 6-12 with a faculty advisor. The winning teams, which will be chosen by an expert panel of judges, will include:
* Twenty-four Best in Region winners from the West, Midwest, South and East. Each Best in Region school will receive a $5,000 cash grant plus virtual training on coding and support from the MIT Media Lab's app development experts to help it build its app concept.
* Eight Best in Nation winners, selected from the pool of Best in Region teams. Best in Nation schools will receive an additional $15,000 cash grant, and each winning team member will receive a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. Additionally, the MIT Media Lab will provide onsite and virtual training on coding and support to the Best in Nation teams as they develop their apps, and Verizon will help bring their apps to the Google Play store. The Best in Nation winners will present their apps in person -- on their new tablets -- at the 2014 Technology Student Association National Conference in Washington, D.C., next June.
* Three special Best in Category winners, which will be recognized for their app concepts to help solve problems in education, healthcare or energy management -- focus areas for the Verizon Foundation.
Submissions will be accepted now through Dec. 3. Teams can submit their app ideas, access tips and instructional videos on app design, and learn more about the Verizon Innovative App Challenge at 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 dollars to support education initiatives.
More at www.tsaweb.org or www.verizonfoundation.org.
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