FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Perhaps one day, Poudre School District students will draw smartphones from their pockets and launch an app dreamed up by their peers.
Seven girls at Lincoln Middle School have since November made plans for a homework-helping app. When complete, they plan to submit the final product — a research essay and mock video ad — to Verizon's Innovative App Challenge, which has middle and high school students design an app to address a need or problem in their school or community.
The project was born out of academic requirements set before sixth-grader Mikki Haas. Haas is one among hundreds of PSD's gifted and talented students who has an ALP, or Advanced Learning Plan, that directs her to take her education beyond what she learns in the classroom. After hearing about the app challenge from her teachers, Haas got six of her friends to climb on board.
A couple weeks ago, the girls munched on sandwiches and granola bars over lunch, eagerly sharing details about the inner working of their proposed app. The dream is to have teachers submit curriculum materials that students of all grade levels could access; the information will be kept up-to-date over time.
For example, a student could log on and click the English or math categories. Therein, they might take a quiz on nouns or multiplication tables. Should they get bored, they can bring up "brain breaks" —perhaps a short educational video that promotes physical activity.
"We want to make it fun for (students)," said sixth-grader Kaiah Mooradian, 11.
Not every student across the district has access to Internet at home, but many more have smartphones and, thus, apps, said project adviser Jennifer White, a math teacher at the school.
She continues to be impressed by the girls' innovative ideas and ability to work together, something the girls agreed isn't always easy. This project also incorporates knowledge of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Verizon will make the winning team's app a reality, in addition to awarding team members tablets and $10,000 for their school. And while the idea put smiles on the face of each girl, this project is more about "fun" and "teamwork," they said.
"Even if we lose, it would be fun," Haas said.