CALDWELL, NJ — Students from the Technovation Clubs at Caldwell-West Caldwell (CWC) district schools presented their projects at the CWC Board of Education meeting on Monday.
This program, geared specifically toward girls, was created to inspire girls to change the world through the use of technology.
After watching the movie “Code Girl,” a documentary about high school girls around the world who are working to improve their communities through technology, a group of students were inspired to begin creating their own apps.
Supervised by three staff members—Jennifer Emmolo and Kate Berkman, library/media specialists, and Cindy Halen, district technology integrator—girls in grades kindergarten through fifth grade were required to come up with a problem faced in the world today that could be solved by using a smartphone app.
They then developed a business plan for this app followed by a pitch video for their product. In this video, they described their idea and the ways in which their product could help solve a problem in society today.
“The girls worked really hard to get everything done and we are really proud of them,” said Berkman, who also explained that mentors were not allowed to help the teams with their projects.
The next step was to use MIT App Inventor to design their app. According to the program’s website, “MIT App Inventor is an innovative beginner's introduction to programming and app creation that transforms the complex language of text-based coding into visual, drag-and-drop building blocks. The simple graphical interface grants even an inexperienced novice the ability to create a basic, fully functional app within an hour or less.”
Once this app was completed, the students created an instructional video to explain how to use this program.
The students formed teams and met several times a week to work on their project. The topics the students came up with were: locating lost pets, bullying, helping with chores and global warming.
The first team to present its project was from Jefferson School. The students called themselves “Jaguar Girls” and created a program to help find lost pets.
The team’s app, called “On the Loose,” allows pet owners to not only register their pet, but also to create a will providing specific directions for their pet should anything happen to it. It also helps individuals who have found a lost dog or cat locate its owner rather than bringing it to a shelter.
Although the app was not completed prior to the submission deadline, the team is hoping to submit it next year.
Another team from Wilson School designed a program to help stop global warming as well as help conserve energy. Under the team name “Thin Ice,” the group developed a way for individuals to track how much energy they use each month.
Superintendent James Heinegg congratulated the girls on their hard work.