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Published September 06, 2013, 08:42 AM

West Fargo 6th grade STEM teams back at app board

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Sixth-grade students in a West Fargo science, technology, engineering and math program are hoping they have the same app appeal as last year's class.

By: DAVE KOLPACK, Associated Press, Associated Press

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Sixth-grade students in a West Fargo science, technology, engineering and math program are hoping they have the same app appeal as last year's class.

A team of nine students from the STEM center last year became one of 10 groups in the country out of 471 entrants to win a national contest by designing an app to promote recycling. The school received $10,000 and Samsung Galaxy tablets for the students.

Some of the money was used to send seven of the students, their adviser and a college student assistant to a national convention in Florida to show off the app. The rest was used to promote STEM education.

The second Verizon Innovative App Challenge was launched earlier this week and West Fargo STEM school teacher Gretchen Peterson said students are already formulating ideas.

"Of course, we are going to go for it again," Peterson said. "My students are very excited about it."

The idea for the app was named a best-in-states winner in March, but students this summer finished developing it with the help of an expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology media lab. The app helps users locate recycling centers, set up reminders to recycle and add new or unlisted facilities.

The app is available in the Google Play store.

Justina Nixon-Saintil, Verizon Foundation's director of education, said apps should be realistic, practical and unique. Another winning program developed by rural students in Iowa gives farmers information on soil composition, commodity statistics and other important growing factors in one app.

"The big thing is, it has to solve a problem," Nixon-Saintil said. "That is why the Recycling Bin is very important."

The format has changed slightly this year. Instead of 10 schools winning $10,000 each, there will be eight winners awarded $20,000 each.

"The challenge is open to anyone and everyone and I like to promote that," Peterson said. "The students have to come up with the original idea. It's really up to them to come up with that idea that they're going to deem as the winning idea."

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