It’s telling from the education headlines today that stagnant interest and proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) amongst U.S. students is a major problem. According to the National Math + Science Initiative, STEM jobs are expected to grow 70 percent faster than overall employment during the next several years. However, there are approximately 2.5 entry-level job postings for each new bachelor’s degree recipient in a STEM field, compared with 1.1 job postings for each new four-year graduate in a non-STEM field. Simply put, there are not enough qualified graduates to fill our country’s increasing need for STEM-educated workers.
Simply put, there are not enough qualified graduates to fill our country’s increasing need for STEM-educated workers.
In 2013, Verizon started its Innovative App Challenge to respond to this critical need and inspire student interest in STEM. In 2015, a group of seven students from Rice Middle School in Plano was one of eight teams to win Best in Nation in the annual competition. The team’s app concept, Mind Glass, was developed with the goal to offer students with dyslexia options for customizing text to make it easier for them to read and comprehend.
In the weeks following their win, the team of seventh- and eighth-graders worked with MIT App Inventor Master Trainers from the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab to get onsite and virtual training on coding and app development, using MIT App Inventor to develop the teams’ apps. Verizon, in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, helped the students develop their app concept, making it ready for sharing and distribution.
Today, their app concept is a reality. On June 1, 2015—just four short months after learning of their Best in Nation win—the team uploaded the fully formed Mind Glass app to the Google Play store, where it is still available for download to Android devices. That same month, the Mind Glass team and the members of the other seven winning teams presented their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Dallas.
Verizon, in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, helped the students develop their app concept, making it ready for sharing and distribution.
The 2016 App Challenge will kicked off with the announcement of the Best in State Winner on January 6, followed by Best in Region on January 13, and finally, Best in Nation on February 2.
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