Teens design educational app for national competition

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PROVO, Utah -- Seven sophomore students at Timpview High School are close to winning $10,000 after developing an app that won a statewide competition.

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge required students to come up with a clever app idea and write an essay about its design.

Jared Swenson is one of the seven on the team, and he said explaining their idea within the constraints of the contest was a challenge.

"One of the biggest parts of this essay was just keeping it thorough and concise,” he said. “Cause we had a limit of 1,000 words, and if we went over, you know, our essay wouldn't mean anything. And that was a big challenge because we had so much to say, and if we wanted to fulfill all the requirements we had to bring things down.”

The students are all enrolled in an advanced technology class, and with the skills they learned there they came up with their app: Streamline Education.

The app is designed to bring multiple school resources together in one place, including looking up grades and getting help with homework. Eric Brown was another student who worked on the project, and he said the app started small and grew from there.

“At first when we designed it, it was very narrow in the scope of what it did,” he said. “But as we went on and designed it, every once in a while somebody would say, 'oh wouldn't it be neat if it could do this thing?' And most of us would usually say, ‘oh yeah, that would be really cool,’ and we'd add that in as a feature. Or [we would say] 'no, I don't think that that's a good idea.’”

Brown said winning the best in state was a pleasant surprise.

“I didn't really expect to win at the state level,” he said.”I definitely knew ours was good, but I didn't think it was as good as, or I didn't think it was better than everyone else’s in the state, but I guess it is."

The team of teens now takes their app design to the national level, where they could win a $10,000 grant and the chance to work with MIT laboratories to produce the app.

Brown said he thinks their app will be competitive.

"Just by looking at the titles of the other apps developed in other states, I think ours stands a pretty good chance of winning, and hopefully we'll be able to develop it with the people at MIT," he said.