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Science team named state champions of Verizon Innovative App Challenge


by Cate Waters
[UPDATE 1/16/2015]: Judges did not select Internus as a New England regional finalist.
Students from North’s science team won the state championship of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge (VIAC) Tuesday, Jan. 6 with their concept of an application called Internus, which helps students find internships.
The objective of the challenge is to fix a problem the students find in their community.
Team members “realized that most students aren’t aware of all the internship opportunities around them,” said junior David Reiss-Mello, the captain of the VIAC group, which is a part of the science team.
“We conducted a poll of over 200 kids from the school and 85 percent of them considered applying for an internship but only 20 percent of them applied,” said Reiss-Mello. The team realized that students need a phone application to help them locate internships in their community.
Team members working on the VIAC include seniors Izzy Brand, Luke Fisher, Bill Shen, and juniors Nick Ambrosio, Matthew Hass, Amy Huang and Reiss-Mello, and are advised by science department head Amy Winston.
To complete the first round of the competition, the team submitted a three to five minute video explaining the application along with a written explination.
The video and essays submitted for the Massachusetts competition will be judged, along with other state winners, at the New England regional competition. The winner of regionals will be announced tomorrow.
“Three winners are chosen from the high school and three from the middle school level,” said Shen. If the team places in the top three at regionals, they will win $5,000, according to the VIAC website.
If the team wins the money, it will “develop the app and create another video for nationals,” said Brand.
At Nationals, a total of eight teams, out of all the teams four high schools and four middle schools will be the winners of the competition. Each of these teams team will receive a $15,000 grant, along with professional help to form their final app. Each of the winning team members will also receive Samsung Galaxy Tablets. These teams will show their application at the 2015 National Technology Student Association Conference in Dallas, Texas in June.
Huang explains the application the team entered in VIAC. “It is an app which connects students to businesses or organizations that have available internships,” said Huang. The application would help high school students through the application process and provide a checklist of requirements for their internships. Internus is for students who are looking for an internship in a STEM field.
Internus also has to connect to the business world and the people who are providing internships.
“We would also create a website just for the businesses,” said Reiss-Mello. “Businesses would input the information regarding their internship in the website.” The website would be constantly updated by businesses and be accessible to students through the application platform, according to Reiss-Mello.
“The Boston Museum of Science, Draper Laboratories, Bruno Faviero from MIT who manages many local businesses, and the City of Newton have expressed interest,” he said.
Some other application ideas for this challenge, submitted by other teams, include event trackers, club finders, medication reminders and an app that reminds you if you are spending too much time on your phone and not studying.

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