As president of the Computer Club, senior Emma Frantz knew from experience that technology could help solve a problem that students were having at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“A lot of students have to fulfill community service hours,” said Frantz.
But she and fellow Computer Science Club members had a hard time keeping track of their volunteer hours. They also had to rely on faculty members to tell them about community volunteer opportunities.
“If we had an app, we could just log our hours as soon as we complete them,” said senior Rachel Adams. “Also, an app could allow organizations to list volunteer opportunities, which would make it easier for us to find them in our community.”
The Club took this concept for an app and submitted it to the 2015 Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Named Servi (Latin for “to serve”), their app would track volunteer hours, and allow organizations in the community to post volunteer opportunities.
“Hopefully it will make the community more active and promote volunteerism,” said senior Jackson Ricker.
The team from Palmer High School won Best in State for its Servi app concept.
“It didn’t feel like school work, it felt like a ‘real world’ work project,” said Ricker. “It was way more engaging and fun.”
But then the real fun began!
The Colorado Springs Business Journal highlighted the team’s victory and they received recognition from the school board and the Colorado House of Representative in the state legislature. In addition, Colorado Springs’ Mayor Steve Bach presented the team with the Spirit of the Springs Award.
“I have never received an award from the city, so it was like woo-hoo,” said Adams. “I think it’s all still sinking in!”
The win came at the right time. Some of the graduating members of the team used the victory on scholarship applications. Other graduating members are heading straight into the workforce.
“This totally went on my resume,” said senior Rachael Wilts.
The entrepreneurial community in the Springs is interested in what these young teens have to offer. This May, the Palmer High School team will present its app concept to Epicentral CoWorking, a work space dedicated to supporting and connecting local entrepreneurs and businesses.
“This is a great opportunity for the students,” said Computer Club advisor and Palmer High School teacher Sean Wybrant. “They will get the opportunity to have feedback from the entrepreneurial community and get advice and guidance on what they would need to do to bring this app to market.”
Only one member of the team is a sophomore, and he has already started working to take Servi from concept to reality.
“I made a prototype of the app and coded it on a server for Android users,” said Jaiden Clark-Muth. “It’s a bit buggy right now, but the app will connect to the server and allow a user to upload their profile information.”
Regardless of whether Servi makes it to market, this team says they are proud of their accomplishments, and hope they have created interest in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
“Typically, when students hear about a national competition, they think they don’t stand a chance,” said Wilts. “But when people from their own school win, they see it as an obtainable goal.”
“A lot of times, when we hear of people getting recognized, it’s typically for sports,” said Adams. “We were recognized for making an app, not for sports or grades, which is great and different.”