LOS FRESNOS, TX — Three of the students who were part of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge Best in Nation award have been invited to the White House to exhibit their project at the White House Science Fair Tuesday, May 27, in Washington, D.C.
Students will hear remarks from President Obama, and interact with other students, professional scientists, high-level senior government, private sector representatives, and others.
Cassandra Baquero, Grecia Cano, Kaitlin Gonzales, Kayleen Gonzalez, Janessa Leija, and Jacquelyne Torres wrote the concept for the app to assist their blind classmate Andres Salas.
With students from a broad range of STEM competitions, this year’s Fair will include a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work. Since day one, the President has been committed to getting more underrepresented groups, including women and girls, excited to excel at STEM subjects. For example, in the Administration’s signature education reform initiative, Race to the Top, President Obama granted states competitive preference if they demonstrated efforts to close the STEM gap for girls and other groups that are underrepresented.
The President hosted the first-ever White House Science Fair in late 2010, fulfilling a commitment he made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign to inspire students to excel in math and science. As the President noted then, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
The White House invitation was limited to three of the six students only. Resaca principal Asael Ruvalcaba and Bolado held a drawing to determine which three students would attend. Baquero, Gonzales and Leija will represent the school, and Salas was also invited. Ruvalcaba and Bolado will also attend.
"We are extremely proud that Resaca Middle School is getting this kind of exposure and happy that our students are experiencing the by-products of classroom education,” Bolado said.
“Hello Navi” integrates a variety of digital tools such as a compass, scanner, VoiceOver, optical braille readers and Google indoor navigation technology to guide blind or visually-impaired students around their schools. It is also intended to assist visually impaired people navigate a building. It will help Andres navigate around Resaca Middle School.
Resaca students and other winning teams have received in-person training by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s App Inventor Training Corps to build their apps and make them available for download. They are scheduled to complete their app by June 1, and present it at the 2014 National Technology Student Convention in Washington June 27-July 1.
The Resaca story has gone national with stories in People Magazine and Telemundo International.
“This is the big picture I set as a personal goal upon taking this teaching opportunity,” Bolado said. “Room 11 at Resaca Middle School is not just about books and pencils and paper – as it is about 'Where are these books and pencils and paper taking me?' This year, the books, pencils and paper are taking us all the way to the White House!”
"We are very excited about the opportunity; this is once in a lifetime," Ruvalcaba said. "As an educator, this is the highest compliment that one can receive: an invitation from the White House. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever picture this. What a great honor this is for Resaca Middle School and for Los Fresnos CISD."
The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a national competition aimed at boosting student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. Teams of middle- and high-school students created mobile application concepts that address needs or problems in their schools and communities.
Administered by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association, the Challenge names four middle school and four high school teams as Best in Nation winners, each of which receives $20,000 in cash grants for their schools and new tablets for each team member courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America.