The FINANCIAL — Students from Edward C. Merlo Institute of Environmental Technology in Stockton, CA and North Division High School Academy of IT in Milwaukee, WI – and their apps – were the stars at the 2016 NAF Next Conference Wednesday in Orlando. The teams participated in the Lenovo Scholar Network mobile app development program this year, and following an online vote their apps were announced as this year’s “Fan Favorites.”
The mobile app competition is part of the Lenovo Scholar Network, a partnership that the company and NAF created in 2014 to encourage greater interest among underserved high school students in STEM subjects while enabling them with entrepreneurial and technology skills needed to pursue careers in computer science, programming and engineering. Teams from 30 NAF academies developed hundreds of apps during the 2015-16 academic year as part of the program, powered by Lenovo-provided ThinkPad laptops and YOGA tablets to aid in development, coding and testing of apps. Based on a distinguished panel of judges invited by NAF, the top six winning apps were announced in May. “Fan Favorite” voting at the Lenovo Scholar Network web site continued through July 19, according to Lenovo.
At NAF Next, each of the winning student teams presented its winning app. In addition to the Merlo Institute and North Division High School, the other four winners from the national competition who presented were:
OHS Guidance, Orosi High School Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, Orosi, CA;
Steps to Success, Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, Detroit, MI;
Student Tracker 9000, Crooms Academy of Information Technology, Sanford, FL;
IMhere, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Charlotte, NC.
The Merlo Institute team developed the QMT Translator mobile app, provides text and voice translation from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. A short demo of the QMT Translator app can be found here. The North Division High team created the Emoji Encouragement mobile app, supports children with health issues and those with low self-esteem by providing words of encouragement when they choose emojis that relate to their current state of mind. A short demo of the Emoji Encouragement app can be found here.
“The ‘Fan Favorite’ selection is one of the most exciting components of our conference each year, and we are thrilled to have the chance to recognize the work and innovation of our students,” said NAF President JD Hoye. “I’d like to extend NAF’s gratitude to Lenovo for making this one-of-a-kind opportunity available, once again, as we continue to make strides in granting each and every student access to the tools and resources that will allow them to take charge of their futures.”
“NAF and Lenovo is a natural partnership and we’re proud to engage young minds in critical elements of learning that can drive their career paths,” said Emilio Ghilardi, president of Lenovo North America and a member of NAF’s STEM Advisory Board. “As a global technology company, these are investments to help ensure the workforce of tomorrow is prepared for the long term success of companies and nations.”
Lenovo Scholar Network Expands to 50 NAF Academies
As the Lenovo Scholar Network prepares to enter its third year, the program will grow from 30 to 50 NAF academies for the 2016-17 academic year. In its first year, 10 NAF I/T academies were invited with a goal of reaching 250 students. The program served more than 400 students nationwide. The program continues to grow, and NAF expects nearly 2,000 students to participate in the upcoming school year.
As part of the Lenovo Scholar Network, students work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab’s App Inventor development tool, a web-based tool for creating Android apps, to build and test their apps on Lenovo devices. NAF and MIT work together to provide technical assistance to Teachers in the Lenovo Scholar Network, and to develop support materials for teachers using MIT App Inventor.