WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An app made by a group of West Fargo sixth graders may not have won a national competition, but it likely will go a long way toward ensuring that classes at their school start on time.
The Liberty Middle School team’s “School Handy” app made West Fargo the only U.S. city to win its state competition in Verizon’s Innovative App Challenge three years in a row. The app is designed to show students what supplies they need for class on a daily basis and to help them locate lost items with real-time updates on the school’s lost and found repository.
“I think our main problem was the kids were late for class in getting their supplies,” said Max Wieland, one of seven team members from the school’s science, technology, engineering and math program. “What I liked about the project is that we like coming up with problems and then finding ways to solve the problem.”
Although the students didn’t advance to the final round, they still plan to develop their app.
“To be quite honest, their app could help everybody in this school as far as teachers, principals, administrators and students, and it could also help parents at home,” said Liberty teacher Gretchen Peterson, the team’s adviser. “I can see this app being created and being used.”
The team began with the premise that it needed to do something about students wasting class time by going back and forth to their lockers to get supplies for that day’s lesson. The app will have a site for teachers to update their daily lesson plans and let students know what to bring with them.
“This way you don’t have to go all the way over somewhere to get what you need and go all the way back,” student Kamden Coles said.
The team also added the lost and found function and an events calendar to the app. The lost and found section would include photographs of every lost item turned in to the school office.
“Lost and found is a big problem in our school,” Peterson said. “We have students that never claim their items; some of them expensive items that their parents are unaware are still here.”
The students were attempting to be the city’s third straight national winner, joining Cheney Middle School’s Snap Docs app last year and STEM Center Middle School’s Recycling Bin app in 2013. Snap Docs coverts pdf files into text and Recycling Bin helps users locate the recycling centers nearest them.
The contest receives about 2,000 entries each year.
“We’re looking for unique and innovative ideas and each year we’ve been able to get those ideas from students in West Fargo,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, Verizon’s director of education programs. “The first thing I thought when I saw the ‘School Handy’ app is that my daughter needs this badly. My daughter has lost two sweaters and a number of other items at her school.”
Other team members are Ariana Koustrup, Carter Larson, Kianna Neeb, Jacy Olafason and Rukan Parves. Peterson said the team members, who put in about 25 hours on the project, learned how to work together and make “compromises and choices.” Half of the group produced an essay and the other half made a video to promote the app.
“This app will help students decrease tardiness and disorganization, causing the amount of wasted time to decrease in school,” the essay reads. “If all students have these skills, it will help them in their future careers and make the world a better place.”
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