This month, my Student Innovation Team (a group of ten 4th-7th graders) participated in the Verizon App Challenge. They had to identify a problem or challenge, then design an app to respond to it. They were so excited about this challenge. The kids couldn't believe that they could possibly create their own app. After weeks of work, they came up with KidTREK. Below is the essay they wrote about the app for the App Challenge, as well as their "app commercial." I really hope they win and that this app can be developed!
KidTREK: a Safe Journey App for Kids
Written by Brittney M., 6th Grade and Cencere S., 7th Grade
We are concerned about the safety of children as they travel from location to location. As middle school students in Chicago, we are coming to and from school on our own every day. We also have to go to our friends’ houses, family’s houses and activities by ourselves. A lot of times we feel nervous. Our parents, teachers, friends and family members are always worried about us too. They call us to make sure we’re safe. We worry about wheter we can call 911 fast enough if someone comes to bother us. We worry about bullies trying to bother us. We want an app that helps the people who care about us track where we are and see if we are safe.
If you register KidTREK with a parent, guardian, or school you will be able to track your child or student when they leave from where they are coming from and when they arrive home or where they are going. You will get a text when your child leaves their location with a link to their changing location and another text when they arrive at their destination. This text feature uses GPS Tracking. Another feature we have is when a school or a parent wants to track that child at any time they have the ability to do that. If they feel like that child is in danger they can track them. It will also have automated tips about crossing the street. This means the app will use GPS to know when a child gets close to a cross walk so it can give automated safety tips. For example when you are approaching a side walk it reminds you to look both ways which could be helpful (could be turned off). This app can tell you where police stations are and when you are near one (can be turned off). We are also excited to let you know that our app has a program that will invite neighborhood businesses apply to become KidTREK certified Safe Havens. This will allow kids to go into this place if they feel like they are being followed or are in danger. The business will call 911 or their parent. To identify these locations, the windows will have a certified sticker.
Our primary audience for the app is for adults and children. Both are able to use this app. You have to have an adult register with the app and the child will have the app on their phone. Schools can also be an audience. If a school has an after school club or program, and wanted to make sure that the children get home safely, they can register with the app as well (with parent permission.) Older brothers, sisters and cousins could also register with the app to help their younger relatives get home.
To create this app, we used STEM processes in many ways. We started by using technology first and then incorporated every thing else bit by bit. We used the scientific method to come up with our design. We identified a problem, hypothesized some solutions and then started to test our solutions by taking polls and doing research on the Internet with each other.
First we used a learning management system called Schoology to brainstorm problems in our community. Then we took polls about some of our ideas for apps that could solve them. We used our iPads to collect and analyze our data from these polls and collaborate to discuss the results. As we looked at the data we thought about if our app would have relevant features for our primary audiences and if it would be easy for them to use.
We used the Internet to find out if there were similar apps and how our app could be different. We also looked at articles and websites about safety. We also used the Internet to research ideas for our app’s name. We wanted a name that was unique and not used by a lot of other websites or another app.
We used math when we were looking at the concept of mapping. We thought about map scale and how the mapping program would work. We also used math when we collected data from our peers and analyzed it as a team.
By using this STEM process, KidTrek was then born. This is an app that will help kids in case of any problem while walking home.