By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – First they won Best in State, then days ago six Wilson Middle School students nabbed the Fan Favorite vote out of 1,200 submissions from middle school and high school contestants for an application they designed in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
“There was only one fan favorite,” Wilson Middle School Principal Jason Krajewski said.
This was the school’s second time in three years earning the Best in State in the Challenge.
“They created the best app for middle schools in the state,” said Krajewski, who said voting closed at midnight Jan. 31 for the nationwide App Challenge Fan Favorite. “They won Fan Favorite out of 1,200 submissions.”
The six members — Ashton Donaldson, Finn Gomez, Reilly Gomez, Shelby Harris, McKenzie Harris and Alec Brovant — received tablets for the Best in State win. Krajewski said the group, along with one mentor, are headed to Nashville in June where they will partner with Massachusetts Institute of Technology students and Technology Student Association to present their application.
Verizon and TSA are sponsoring the trip and hotel costs.
“The kids and what they did to get the word out and the local support was amazing,” Krajewski said. “The city council and local businesses … they were so supportive.”
The students won $5,000 for the school, going toward Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education. As Fan Favorite, they earned an additional $15,000 for their school for STEM education.
The application they created, “Protect Our Parks,” allows the user to take pictures of rundown park equipment, graffiti or other items needing attention. The app allows the picture to go directly to the respective city administrators.
Krajewski said it’s an app that can be used in any city, but is designed for Wyandotte.
In 2013, the first time the school earned top state honors in the challenge, students created an app for “Surviving Middle School.”
The app helped with math, exercise, a medication reminder, calorie counter and math flash cards, and addressed typical teenage problems. It also contained a link to school counselors.
Several students signed up to take part in the current challenge, but Krajewski said only six of the students selected stuck with it. He said this is not a class, it is purely extracurricular. Krajewski said these students used their own time to take part in the competition.
Special education teacher Jenna Purdu and STEM teacher Greg Brovont assisted the students in the competition.
Krajewski said he is hopeful for the students’ future. He said data shows that 80 percent of the jobs in the next decade will require technology skills, especially in coding.
To get a closer look at the app, go to http://youtu.be/H8Sj40vgDZI.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)