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Success stories

There’s a remarkable story behind every Best in Nation team. Each winning app concept was inspired by the students’ life experiences—problems they’ve encountered, positive trends they want to reinforce, even tragedies in their communities. This page features some of last year’s winners and explains how they conceived of their inventive ideas. Check out their stories as inspiration for your team!

Families That Build Apps Together, Win Together

Family was an important element of success in last year’s contest. In some Best in Nation teams, siblings worked together as teammates, while other teams addressed challenges faced by family members.

Eashana Subramanian and her teammates built AutBuddy, an app that helps kids with autism—like Eashana’s sister—stay focused on daily tasks and communicate better with family members and teachers. And bringing home the Fan Favorite award was Protect Our Parks, which enables users to report graffiti and other issues about neighborhood parks directly to the city government. The idea raked in nearly 10,000 votes, thanks to the creative efforts of identical twins Reilly and Finn Gomez.

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A Tragic Loss Leads to an Innovative Solution

When an 18-year-old student from Butler Township, Pennsylvania, was killed in a car crash last year, the tragedy was a call to action. Students at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in the nearby Cranberry Township came together to create an app that helps prevent teen speeding. In their research, the team learned that more than a third of teen driver fatalities involve speeding.

“Safety is more important than having the thrill of driving really fast on a road,” says student Matt Esser, who led his team in developing the app Safe Speed. Using Verizon Navigator’s GPS, the app compares the road’s speed limit with the speed the phone is traveling (based on its accelerometer). The app alerts drivers when they are going five or more miles above the speed limit.

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Kids Build an App for Grandparents with Memory Loss

Elli Tilford, a seventh grader at Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky, saw her mother struggling to care for her grandfather, who lived 500 miles away and suffered from memory loss. Elli resolved to help. “How could we help people with dementia take their medication and make it to appointments reliably and on time?” she asked herself.

When she approached her friends with the idea, Elli found that some were dealing with a similar situation in their own families. Six girls from Meyzeek designed the Pharm Alarm app to alert patients when it is time to take medications and go to the doctor. If the patient forgets to take their medication or leave for an appointment, a support person receives an alert on their smartphone.

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Where’s My Ride? App links after-school riders, drivers

Tiffany Hsieh and her teammates know how it feels to be stuck after school, stranded without a ride. As students at Johns Creek High School in Johns Creek, Georgia, they often had to walk home after extracurricular activities or wait hours for their parents to get off work. Wouldn’t it be great, they reasoned, if there was a smartphone app that could connect students who need rides with parents and students who had room in their cars to spare?

Vroom helps students who go to the same school and live near each other—but don’t necessarily participate in the same activities—link up and head home together. Its messaging feature allows students and parents to connect over text, removing the potential awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction.

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