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Resaca Middle School Student Team Named Best in Region in Second Verizon Innovative App Challenge

National Program Aimed at Boosting Students' Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

LOS FRESNOS, Texas, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of students from Resaca Middle School has earned one of 24 Best in Region awards in the second national Verizon Innovative App Challenge. 

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

Resaca Middle School's Hello Navi app concept, which 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-challenged students around their school, was named a Best in State winner in January. The team has now won two rounds of judging and, after a live virtual presentation to the judges, the students could win one of eight top national honors. 

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. Student teams with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests from across the country submitted more than 770 app concepts. Nearly 1,300 teams entered the contest, and nearly 40 percent of them were from underserved schools.

"We are nearing the finish line, and these students now can bring home a Best in Nation award," said David Russell, vice president of External Affairs at Verizon Foundation. "The App Challenge is a comprehensive contest that not only encourages students to problem-solve, it tests their writing, production, presentation and critical-thinking skills, all of which are needed to achieve."

The 24 winning teams – 12 each from middle schools and high schools – represent the West, Midwest, South and East regions. Each team has earned a $5,000 cash grant for its school, and each team's faculty adviser and up to two colleagues will participate in an online course called "Teaching App Creation with MIT App Inventor," taught by app development experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's Center for Mobile Learning.

On Feb. 19, eight Best in Nation winners will be named, chosen from Best in Region teams. Each Best in Nation team will earn its school an additional $15,000 cash grant to further develop or support a program in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. And each team member will receive a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America.

In addition, the MIT Media Lab's Center for Mobile Learning will provide onsite and virtual training on coding and support using MIT App Inventor to the Best in Nation teams as they develop their apps, and Verizon will help make students' app concepts ready for sharing and distribution. One avenue for students to share their apps will be the Google Play store.       

In June, the members of the eight winning teams will be invited to present their apps in person – on their new tablets – at the 2014 National TSA Conference in Washington, D.C., courtesy of Verizon.

Best in State teams that did not advance further in the competition will soon have access to a self-guided app-development course developed by the MIT Media Lab's App Inventor team. The course will teach the teams how to take their apps from concept to completion, under the direction of each team's faculty adviser.  To see the list of the Best in State and Best in Region winners visit www.verizonfoundation.org/appchallenge.

The Verizon Foundation is focused on improving teaching and learning, particularly through the use of mobile technologies to support STEM education. Since 2000, the foundation has invested more than $320 million to support education initiatives. 

About the Technology Student Association (TSA) 
The Technology Student Association is a national organization devoted exclusively to the needs of students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Open to young people enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA's membership includes over 190,000 middle- and high-school students in 2,000 schools spanning 48 states. TSA partners with universities and other organizations to promote a variety of STEM competitions and opportunities for students and teachers. TSA is supported by educators, parents and business leaders who believe in the need or a technologically literate society. From engineers to business managers, our alumni credit TSA with a positive influence in their lives. Visit http://www.tsaweb.org for more information.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company's innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management.  Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities.  For more information about Verizon's philanthropic work, visit www.verizonfoundation.org; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).

VERIZON'S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts and other information are available at Verizon's online News Center at newscenter.verizon.com.  The news releases are available through an RSS feed.  To subscribe, visit newscenter.verizon.com/corporate/feeds.

SOURCE Verizon Wireless

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