Teams from Two NJ Schools Earn ‘Best in State’ in Third Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Photo: Student team from Franklin Borough Middle School Photo Credit: Donnett Barnett Verley
Student team from Franklin Borough Middle School | Donnett Barnett Verley

Two teams of students — one from Franklin Borough School (Franklin) and the other from High Technology High School (Lincroft) — recently learned that they had been selected as “Best in State” in the third Verizon Innovative App Challenge. They were among were among 90 student teams from middle and high schools across the country to win at the state level. Soon these student teams will compete for selection as “Best in Region.”

Under the Innovative App Challenge, middle- and high-school student teams were asked to design a mobile-application concept that would address a need or problem in their local schools or communities.

The team of middle-school students from Franklin Borough came up with an app concept called “Braille Books.” If developed, this app would use vibrations emanating from a smartphone to replicate braille, allowing blind students to read books, including textbooks, by following along the lines with their fingers.

Photo: Students on the HTHS Verizon App Team Photo Credit: Robert Dennis, HTH technology instructor
Students on the HTHS Verizon App Team | Robert Dennis, HTH technology instructor

The high school team from High Technology came up with the app concept called “Thinklet.” If developed, this app would help connect researchers and engineers seeking new ideas for improving society with individuals who have such ideas, but no opportunities to realize them. 

These wins brought the student teams one step closer to being named one of eight “Best in Nation” winners of the Innovative App Challenge. This competition is designed to increase student interest in, and knowledge of, STEM subjects and mobile technology by engaging them in an empowering learning experience. 

 “It’s great to see students, some as young as sixth graders, using their imagination and creativity — as well as their knowledge and skill in science, technology, engineering and math — to identify problems and conceptualize solutions that can be developed into usable apps,” said  Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation.

Last year’s Innovative App Challenge resulted in some outstanding apps, and more innovative and unique concepts have been developed by students across the country. As companies increasingly seek workers with middle- or high-level tech skills, the hope is that this challenge will motivate more students across the US to pursue STEM careers.   

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge was created in partnership with the Technology Student Association in response to the need to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Student interest and proficiency in STEM subjects has stagnated in the US, especially among women and minorities, although 80 percent of all jobs over the next decade will require STEM skills, a Verizon release said.

[We learned as we went to press that the High Technology High School Team was a national winner!]

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