Kasson-Mantorville Team Competes Internationally in the Technovation Challenge
On June 25 a team of three girls from Kasson-Mantorville (K-M) Middle School competed in the annual Technovation Challenge finals in San Francisco. They were just one of four teams internationally to qualify for the finals in the middle school category. Another American middle school team qualified for the finals, along with teams from Mexico and India.
The international Technovation Challenge is a computer coding competition for middle and high school girls. The challenge was to develop a cell phone app that serves a beneficial purpose and not simply provide entertainment.
The team of Rylee Melius, Lydia Mindermann, and Andrea Richard, all seventh graders, is called Furst Class, in honor of its sponsor at the middle school, teacher Sharie Furst. The Kasson-Mantorville team won the “Audience Choice Award,” for which all ten of the middle and high school teams were competing at the international competition. The K-M team was a runner-up for the $10,000 app commercialization prize at the middle school level. The commercialization prize at the middle school level went to a team from India. The winning team for the $10,000 commercialization prize at the high school level was from Nigeria.
The team’s app is called “Mayo Freetime,” and its purposes include helping Mayo patients from outside of Rochester with wayfinding between medical appointments and to chat with others who are in similar situations. The K-M team’s app could be adapted for other communities that have large medical campuses. A video of the K-M girls explaining their app is now on the home page of technovationchallenge.org. The team is mentored by Kris Kendall, an IBM employee.
Three teams from southeastern Minnesota were among six high school teams and 22 middle school teams from across the state that each had seven minutes to pitch a cell phone app of their own development during the second annual TechnovationMN Appapalooza on May 3 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The K-M team then advanced to the international competition on June 25.
The Technovation Challenge originated in 2009 but has only been organized in Minnesota for two years. The Rochester Area Math Science Partnership helped launch the activity in Southeastern Minnesota in January 2015. Emily Benner, a Sr. Vice President of Research and Development at Preventice, recruited mentors for the Rochester area teams, primarily from IT staff at the Mayo Clinic and IBM.
The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership (RAMSP) have partnered to create a “STEM Stewards” coalition. This quarterly meeting is for champions of STEM careers, programs, education & partnerships. The purpose is to stay informed on the latest news, programs, legislative activities, statewide efforts and resources related to STEM education and to connect with other like-minded organizations to effect real change in STEM preparations.
This large Rochester-area group consists of businesses with workforce needs in STEM fields, innovative higher Ed & K12 educators & school administrators, and community organizations with STEM programming. The fast-paced format will include rotating presentations, round-table updates and networking time.