Girls build apps and compete at Technovation[MN]’s Appapalooza Event
by Stephanie Ussatis, on May, 6, 2015
On Sunday May 3 of 2015, over 140 girls on twenty-seven different teams, 23 judges, speakers and supporting family members converged at the Minneapolis Convention Center for Technovation[MN]’s Appapalooza event.
Led by Shawn Stavseth, Technovation[MN] brought the Global Technovation Challenge to Minnesota for the first time in 2014. The Technovation Challenge is the largest and longest-running global technology competition exclusively for girls. It inspires and enables girls to dream up, design, code and pitch mobile phone apps as part of STEM education. Currently, only about one out of every seven engineers is female.
Appapalooza, the culmination of the Technovation Challenge, was created to celebrate and congratulate all Minnesota Technovation Challenge teams on completing the 12-week curriculum and submitting their work. Attendance and participation at this year’s event were more than double when compared to 2014, with teams competing from middle schools and high schools in the Twin Cities metro and surrounding areas of Minnesota.
Registration started at 1pm and quickly filled up with nervously smiling teen girls and proud parents anxious and excited for the app presentations to begin.
The event, spread out between four different conference rooms, began at 2pm with inspirational and insightful advice from women leaders in the local tech community. Shedding shyness to the side and displaying a good understanding of the technology each team was given time to pitch their app to the judges and audience. Judges evaluated each app based on a global judging rubric containing objective and subjective scoring. The objective score comprises of Ideation, Technical, and Entrepreneurial scores. The subjective score rates an app relative to the other apps and then these scores are combined to award a total score.
Most of the app ideas presented had a focus on helping others or their community. Apps like ShelterMe to assist the homeless in locating nearby shelters and food, HurtAlert which alerts pre-determined contacts in case of a health emergency and Tidbits, an app that helps students stay on top of school and community announcements, news and events. The presentations made apparent a gap in business knowledge - such as how to research, conduct a needs analysis and commercialize the apps. But all in all, the teams were very supportive and cohesive, everyone was having fun!
Congratulations 2015 Appapalooza Winners!
Three middle school teams and one high school team were deemed regional champions and advance to the global semi-final round.
Middle School Regional Champions:
- Mayo Freetime built by Furst Class from Kasson-Mantorville, Rochester
- Access196 built by Falcon Ridge Middle School Team Apple Valley
- School@Home built by the Nerdettes from Central Middle School, Norwood Young America
High School Regional Champion:
- AbroadNet built by Technovation[MN]-IT from Trinity High School at River Ridge and Connections Academy
Awards were also given for:
- Best Technical App – ShelterMe built by Escape the Cage from Minnetonka High School, Minnetonka
- Best Entrepreneurial App – The Babysitters Guide to Success built by Computer Glitz from Dakota Hills Middle School, Eagan
- Best Pitch – Hurt Alert built by M-KATS, BDPA, Rochester
- Best Pitch – Neighbor Chat built by The Weasties at Minnetonka Middle School East & West, Minnetonka
- Best Pitch – Give & Take built by Fab 4 Below, Valley View Middle School, Edina
- Best Pitch – Little Helper built by Girls Coding, Bunch of friends
- Code Savvy, Best Technical – DogTrax built by Victoria TechTrax from Chaska Middle School East, Chaska
- Code Savvy, Best Technical – UNITE built by CRCS Lady Warrior from Cedar Riverside Community School, Minneapolis
The four regional champion teams will advance to the World Pitch 2015 in June where a total of 10 international finalists (6 high school and four middle school) will be chosen. These top 10 teams are flown to Silicon Valley where they will pitch their app in the hopes of winning $10,000 in seed funding and help with commercializing their app.
Looking forward, Technovation[MN] is just getting started and has a real need for qualified mentors to help in programming and entrepreneurship. A debrief with judges, and Code Savvy staff would be very beneficial and the knowledge and varied backgrounds of the judges could be leveraged to improve the program. A strong marketing campaign resulting in awareness and major press coverage could be helpful in growing support for the cause and increased participation for next year’s Appapalooza event.
Congratulations to the girls that participated, you are all winners and have gained valuable experience that will take you to even greater heights in the future! Technovation[MN] is a cause that we at Modus care deeply about and are proud to support.