Team from Uplift North Hills receives $20,000 for Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Verizon App Challenge WinnersA team of seven high school students at Uplift North Hills Preparatory led by World History teacher Samuel Bandstra was named one of eight national winners of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

The team of Aliya Haq, 12th grade, Kunz Mainali, 11th grade, Adhitya Jayasinghe, 11th grade, Sahil Khoja, 11th grade, Sameer Khoja, 10th grade, Sujal Manohar, 10th grader and Niharika Jetty, 10th grader, created the concept of an app to help minimize energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions by showing the carbon footprint for individuals, families, facilities and businesses.

“I found it hard to figure out how we could all make an app that could truly have an effect on the world, but after working with everyone else we realized that we all had different ideas and abilities that could come together and solve a major problem in the world,” said tenth grader, Niharika Jetty.

On Friday April 4, a team from Central Texas, Verizon Wireless joined the school and Uplift Education leaders for a celebration to honor the winning team with a $20,000 check and Samsung tablets.  Each Best in Nation winning team has earned its school a $15,000 Verizon Foundation grant, in addition to a $5,000 grant for achieving Best in Region. Uplift North Hills Prep High School will use the grants to help build the team’s app and advance STEM education.

“It is such a rare and exciting opportunity to work with scholars who are teaching me more than I can teach them, and to see how naturally they do it!” said Mr. Bandstra.

As one of the Best in Nation winners, team members also received training from development experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Center for Mobile Learning. To build their app, students learned to code and how to use MIT App Inventor, with hands-on support and training from Verizon employees and members of the MIT App Inventor Training Corps. Verizon will then help the teams share and distribute their finished apps via a platform such as the Google Play store.

According to Verizon the Innovative App Challenge was creating in partnership with the Verizon Foundation and the Technology Student Association, and charged teams of middle and high school students across the country with developing concepts for mobile applications that could provide solutions to real problems in their schools or communities. The competition is designed to help boost student engagement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

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