Signal students create winning app

Signal students create winning app

March 6th, 2013 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

SMMS TSA club members who created the winning app for the state in the recent Verizon Innovative App Challenge include, bottom row from left, Ben Lockhart, Maddy Baxley, Savannah Payne and Jack Dowling; and top row from left, Hope Taylor, Ellie Proctor, Trinity Donnellan, Dana McCormack, Knox Billings and Nicholas Fowler.

Imagine all the ways technology could have made your life a little easier as an elementary school student. Signal Mountain Middle School students did exactly that while creating School Life, the winning app in the state for the middle school category in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

The recent competition encouraged students to think of a creative idea for an app to develop using their science, technology, engineering and math skills. The School Life app will go on to compete at the national level and a winner will be announced later in March, said SMMHS Technology Student Association president Brent Payne.

The local TSA members who created the app worked with Thrasher STEM teacher Heidi Mies to incorporate tabs that would be helpful to elementary school students and teachers.

"It's similar to [widely used Web-based student information system] PowerSchool, but with a simpler format for elementary school kids," said Ellie Proctor, the team member who wrote the 1,000-word essay explaining the app to contest judges.

The messaging feature allows teachers, parents and students to communicate while the student is at home completing homework assignments.

"If you're confused on how something works, you can message your teacher and see how she wants it," explained team member Maddy Baxley.

Links to assignments are also available for students to print from home.

"When I was younger I used to lose all my assignments, and it would have been helpful to have an app like that," said team member Trinity Donnellan. "The teachers really liked the idea."

A calendar feature keeps parents and students aware of important dates, and a game tab is also included.

"It's easier to learn when you're playing games," said Ellie.

Using iMovie, team member Savannah Payne filmed Thrasher students using their tablets to submit with the group's app idea. She said filming the movie should help her with the multimedia presentations she will have to prepare for the TSA state competition, being held in downtown Chattanooga March 14-17.

The team that wins the Verizon Innovative App Challenge national competition will have their app made, their school will receive $10,000 and each member will get a Samsung Galaxy tablet, said Trinity.