LOS FRESNOS, TX — Inspired by their visually-impaired friend Andres Salas, a group of six Resaca Middle School girls has made their school proud.
The group – Cassandra Baquero, Grecia Cano, Caitlyn Gonzalez, Kayleen Gonzalez, Janessa Leija, and Jacqueline Garcia Torres – earned a Best in Region Award in the second annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
The national program is aimed to boosting students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The school was notified Tuesday that they were one of 24 regional recipients, and sponsor Maggie Bolado has not stopped smiling since. Resaca will now receive a $5,000 cash grant for its school.
Their app concept, called Hello Navi, is designed to assist a visually impaired person navigate inside a building. It integrates a variety of digital tools such as a compass, scanner, VoiceOver, optical braille readers, and Google indoor navigation technology.
The design has been set up to guide Andres around the halls of Resaca Middle School. They received a Best in State award in January, and has now won two rounds of judging.
Next is a live virtual presentation before judges that could take them to be one of eight national finalists.
The Innovative App Challenge 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.
The school will receive $5,000 grant to be applied to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs at the school.
Student teams from across the country submitted more than 770 app concepts. The 24 winning teams – 12 each from middle schools and high schools – represent the West, Midwest, South and East regions. Nearly 1,300 teams entered the contest.
Bolado and other school colleagues will participate in an online course "Teaching App Creation with MIT App Inventor," taught by app development experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab Center for Mobile Learning.
Eight Best in Nation winners will be named Feb. 19, chosen from the Best in Region teams. The eight will earn an additional $15,000 cash grant for their schools and will be invited to present their apps at the 2014 National TSA Conference in Washington, D.C., courtesy of Verizon.
To see the list of the Best in State and Best in Region winners visit www.verizonfoundation.org/appchallenge .