NATIONAL COMPETITION: Pre-engineering teachers Vanessa Farley, left, and Tiffany Bolding, right, stand with members of the Go Girls Engineering Club Reeya Ramasamy, Swetha Anand, Likitha Joneboina and Khushi Parekh. The club has won Best in State and Best in Region in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
Courtesy Union Public Schools
For the second consecutive year, the Union seventh grade Go Girl Engineering Club has been named Best in State in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge and has advanced to national competition.
The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a nationwide contest asking students to design mobile app concepts with the focus on improving or solving societal issues in their schools and communities.
The Go Girl Engineering Club is one of 94 teams of middle and high school students to be named Best in State. The contest saw 1,800 teams participate across the country.
The club’s winning app is called Swap-Do-Nation. The app helps users locate charities where they can donate household and clothing items. Users also have the option of posting these items on the app’s dashboard for local charities to locate and schedule to pick up.
As a Best in State team, each Go Girl Club member will receive a Verizon tablet and $5,000 from the Verizon Foundation for their school and club.
The club was next named Best in Region, putting them in the top 24 in the country.
The team is now competing to earn one of eight Best in Nation awards, selected by a panel of education and industry experts. The team can also earn a Best in Nation award if they win the Fan Favorite award, determined by public voting. Voting for the Fan Favorite award ends Feb. 14. To vote for the Go Girl Engineering Club, text “SWAP” to 22333.
At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, pre-engineering teacher Tiffany Bolding formed the club at the 6th and 7th Grade Center.
Bolding’s goal for the club is twofold: to encourage her students to focus on giving back to the community and to change the mindset that engineering is a male-only field.
“One time, I asked my students what they pictured an engineer to look like, and they all said ‘a man,’” says Bolding.
“I want girls to know that if they want to be an engineer, they can. Females have great minds just like men.”
The eight teams named Best in Nation and the team voted as Fan Favorite will receive $15,000 for their school, club or organization, the chance to build their app concepts into working apps with experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Technology Student Association Conference in Orlando, Florida, in June.
Each year, the Go Girl Club also competes in the Technovation Challenge, a worldwide competition where students have to code an app and make it available to the public and write a business plan.
Last year, the seventh grade team made the semifinals.
Doing these competitions, the students learn to work as a team, to problem solve, to be creative, Bolding says.
Bolding has heard her students talk about their appreciation for their exposure to engineering in Union’s pre-engineering classes and the Go Girl Club, a field of which many of them were previously unaware.
“I’ve had students tell me, ‘Until I took this class, I didn’t know I could be an engineer.’”