GigBridge STEM Competition Awards

For immediate release

Carmen Gonzales and Honeydi Velasquez have been announced as the winners of the first GigBridge STEM competition. The 8-week program culminated with an awards ceremony on Nov. 14 where Mayor Andy Berke gave opening remarks and presented all participants in the program with certificates of completion.

Mayor Andy Berke with CGLA GigBridge studentsGigBridge is an application development program pertaining to obesity and is designed to introduce students to mobile application development, alleviate linguistic disparities, and increase awareness about obesity risk and prevention.​ GigBridge is funded by the Mozilla Gigabit Fund.

In his remarks, Mayor Berke shared his excitement for the students of Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) and East Lake Academy (ELA) who participated in the STEM afterschool program. Following his remarks, the six participating teams presented their apps to a panel of judges. Winners Gonzales and Velasquez are 9th and 7th grade students at CGLA.

They, along with 13 other students, worked in the GigBridge program learning about preventing and reducing obesity and then translated their knowledge into a mobile app using the online app creator Appy Pie. Spanish-speaking students created their apps in their native language while working with language mentors to translate them to English.

Anjali Chandra, a GPS senior and founder of Global Excel, GigBridge’s umbrella nonprofit, said of the teams’ efforts, “It was amazing to see the students who came in not knowing how to use Google Docs or login into GMail, grasp the basics of app development, and create elaborate slides for their presentations today. The unique perspectives they brought to obesity prevention illuminated my own approach as well as that of the other mentors.” Project Coordinator for GigBridge, Alli Crumley, noted that the East Lake Academy students, all middle schoolers, were “committed and very excited to learn that even in middle school they had the capability to make an informative app.”

2014 Fall GigBridge Students and Mentors Competition judges included Dr. Mina Sartipi, an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where she leads the Wireless Research Group. Judge Omar Diaz is a Senior IT Analyst at Utiflex Systems, and Judge Seun Erinle is the owner of A.I.R. Labs, and after school program for children ages 12-18 that teaches web development. Judge Brian Wleklinski is the CTO of RootsRated, a local web company specializing in providing active locals knowledge of a city’s outdoor indentity.

The East Lake Academy students who participated in GigBridge were Rocio Castillo, Marco Perez, Vanessa Perez, Luis Perez Xiloj, Michael Minor, Breanna Scoggina, Mikayla Crump, Zya Sharpley, and Irvin Castillo. The CGLA students were Carmen Gonzales, Honeydi Velasquez, Denya Jacobo, and Samantha Bautista.

Jill Pala, a GPS teacher and GigBridge Tech Mentor shared, “The girls at CGLA were enthusiastic participants. I’m really proud of all the GigBridge teams and the result of all of their hard work!”


GIGBRIDGE ANNOUNCES AWARD CEREMONY Six teams compete in local STEM competition

for immediate release

GigBridge will be hosting the awards ceremony for the end of their 2014 Fall program. Teams from East Lake Academy (ELA) and Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) have been developing their own apps focused on obesity risk and prevention . This Friday, November 14, the six teams will present their apps to a panel of judges who will reward the most promising app.

The awards ceremony will be held on Friday, November 14th, beginning at 4:30 at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, in the Lecture Hall. The ceremony is open to the public. Chattanooga Mayor will be in attendance and giving opening remarks.

With the help of funding from the Mozilla Gigabit Fund, the GigBridge project has allowed students at ELA and CGLA to use their after school time to learn more ways to prevent or reduce obesity. Local health consultants and dieticians have met with the students to answer questions and give input on the issue. They also have had workshops on technology and how applications can meet or solve various needs. Combining their research on obesity and learning how to make a mobile app using the online app maker Appy Pie, they have created individual apps to serve their communities. Spanish speaking students created their apps in their native language as well as working with language mentors to translate the apps to English.

“Education is more than getting perfect scores on the SAT and getting into Harvard. It can be the key to a self-supporting life. Education can help families escape from poverty and get better jobs to lead a better life. “ states Anjali Chandra a GPS senior and founder of Global Excel, GigBridge’s umbrella non profit.

Alli Crumley, GigBridge’s Project Coordinator, said, “It has been exciting to see the students realize they have the tools to make their own app. And when they see how what they are learning in school affects building their app, it really opens up possibilities to them.”

November 6, 2014

GigBridge ELA StudentsThe GigBridge project will finish with a presentation of each team’s app. The app presentation will be judged. The top scoring team will be given a prize and the opportunity to have their app published in the marketplace.

To prepare the students to give their presentations one of our GigBridge mentors gave a workshop on how to create a presentation. She covered the three main points the presentations should cover and demonstrated using slides to make the presentation visually appealing.

All through the GigBridge project the students have been using Google accounts to collaborate their plans with their team members. Working on their presentations using Google Slides lets them learn more about Google tools beyond gMail and Google Docs. Helping the students learn to utilize these tools helps them expand their wheel house of tech tools for the future.

We encouraged the students to explain the goal of their app and demonstrate, using screen shots, the ways the app met their goals. Teams with bilingual students planned their presentations in both English and Spanish.

It will be fun to see the students make their presentations to the judges on the 14th.

October 23, 2014

Today we took a step back to review how to use Appy Pie in the creation of the apps. Appy Pie is a great non-coding tool, however in a middle school classroom environment it has many limitations. To utilize all Appy Pie has to offer, a lot of planning and setting up of other resources needs to occur. There are pages to direct app users to mobile websites, Facebook resources, blog posts, and You Tube playlists. And because the schools have many resources blocked, the students had to redirect their focus of the app to text pages, weblinks, and maps.

GigBridge Students and MentorsOnce we established how Appy Pie could be used by the students they began designing their apps. They took time to decide their app names and the pages they would use.

The minimum number of pages the students had to use is four, an Appy Pie requirement. We encouraged them to use as many as they needed to give users the information they had learned. They really liked the use of the maps to show places to exercise. And using the website page lets the students share the online places they learned about obesity.

If the students had access to other online resources and had more time to plan those resources, they could have used Appy Pie features to the full extent. However, given the limitations, the GigBridge project has really given the students an idea of what organization and research is needed to create an app.

October 16, 2014

Today’s session at East Lake Academy continued with helping the students gather research for their obesity related apps. We arranged for Dietetic students from UTC to consult with the ELA students. Each team started with three questions to help with their focus and discussion.

The questions the students had ranged from “Why is obesity becoming such a big problem?” to “What can you eat to not get fat?” We had one consultant to each team, so the discussions were lively and gave the students a lot to work with to focus their apps. The consultants said they enjoyed their time with the students and even wanted to send them more information.

Having health consultants meet with the teams not only gave the ELA teams more information, it gave them an idea of possible future careers. The GigBridge project is STEM focused and focused heavily on tech, but having health consultants talk to the students also showed them another aspect of a STEM field where they could show interest.

It will be interesting to see where the students take their information and use it in their app making process.