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Middle School Students Develop Mobile App For Ford Competition

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The prominence of mobile apps in recent years has finally reached the halls of middle school. Educational publication The Journal reports that a team of middle school students from a suburb in Detroit won a mobile app design contest, and in doing so won $15,000 for their school.

Students from the Patrick Henry Middle School in Woodhaven, Michigan designed a mobile app that enables parents to find out what their kids are doing at school. The team was part of a competition that included more than 100 students from five middle schools around Detroit.

Held at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center on March 27th-28th, the challenge was sponsored by the Ford STEAM Lab, an educational initiative run by the Ford Motor Company Fund.

The Patrick Henry students developed an app that enables students, parents, and teachers to access their schoolwork and lesson plans outside of school. The app also allows parents and teachers to contact each other directly. Their $15,000 prize also included a $2,500 scholarship for each of the five team members for when they enter college.

In second place, the Clippert Academy team designed an app that improves reading comprehension through quizzes, audio clips, and e-book downloads.

The event’s organizers had nothing but praise for everyone involved. The competition taught students to “utilize existing technology [and] develop flexible schedules so they can continue learning on their own time and improve ways to communicate outside the classroom,” Ford Motor Company Fund Multicultural Community Engagement Manager Shawn Wilson said.

The five teams were all invited to attend a seven-day coding class at the Henry Ford College in Dearborn this summer. There, they will have the opportunity to build genuine Android apps.

The event was televised live on MSNBC and was judged by civil rights activist and former Obama Administration official Van Jones, Detroit Free Press editor Stephen Henderson, and MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid.

Software development and mobile apps are becoming increasingly important, if not integral, to the American economy, which is one reason why the competition was held. Nearly 81% of businesses consider their blog to be an essential component of their website and, in turn, overall marketing strategy.

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