Westford Academy in Massachusetts recently celebrated the students behind the “Tactillium” app concept, recognized as “Best in Nation” in the second Verizon Innovative App Challenge. As one of approximately 1,300 entries across the country, the five Westford Academy students created a winning concept that helps deliver science education through a chemistry simulator, without the need for expensive chemistry equipment and materials.
Since learning they were selected as finalists in the challenge, the Westford Academy students have worked diligently with the assistance of their faculty advisor, Anne Stowe, as well as contacts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Center for Mobile Learning to develop their app. In the process, the Tactillium team wrote more than 4,000 lines of code and created a prototype that is expected to be tested in a local middle school classroom as early as June.
Local officials were on hand to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and experience a demonstration of the application and interactive Web platform. In addition, Westford Academy was presented with a $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to further develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs at the high school.
What’s next for these students? In addition to four out of the five students graduating from Westford Academy in early June and preparing for college in the fall, members of the winning team will travel to Washington, D.C., this summer to demonstrate their application at the 2014 National Technology Student Association Conference. The Tactillium team will continue to work together to further develop their app and plans to bring it to market by the end of year.
In addition to Westford Academy, the other “Best in Nation” high schools include:
- Bartlett High School – Bartlett, Ill.
- North Hills Preparatory School – Irving, Texas
- Helena High School – Helena, Mont.
This year’s “Best in Nation” middle school winners include:
- Cheney Middle School – West Fargo, N.D.
- Jefferson Township Middle School – Oak Ridge, N.J.
- Resaca Middle School – Los Fresnos, Texas
- Open Window School – Bellevue, Wash.
For the 2014-2015 Innovative App Challenge, teams of five to seven students and a faculty advisor from any public, private or parochial middle can enter from August 4 through November 14.