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NHS CTIA Students Reflect On Student Innovation Expo

Nearly a month after participating and earning the top title in their category at the Connecticut Student Innovation Expo in Hartford, Newtown High School Connecticut Innovation Academy (CTIA) students were still excited about the product they created this school year.

This was the second year in a row that NHS students earned top recognition at the expo. Last year’s class placed first in Outstanding Web Design, Outstanding Expo Booth, Outstanding Presentation, and Overall Mobile Application Development. In addition, last year’s team tied for first in the Design Document/ White Paper category. The students earned the awards and honors for designing and developing a mobile application called “VeggieFetch.”

This year’s students earned first place in the Research, Design, and Development category for creating a mobile application called “Gabble.” The group was also nominated for Outstanding Interpretation of the Innovation Expo Theme Award.

A website, Gabble.us, was also designed to explain Gabble.

“Gabble is a place to converse, debate, learn and grow your political knowledge. It provides resources to review and understand current events and political issues, connect to your local and national government, start movements and be heard. Gabble helps unearth your true political orientation and connect with others interested in the same topics,” a description on the website reads. “Gabble addresses the growing apathy of politics in the current youth by providing an engaging and exciting mobile environment. Whether you long for just a chat or a recorded debate, Gabble will provide! With Gabble you can even send a letter to your local representative and also planned soon, petitions!”

According to NHS teacher Kristin Violette, the students began working on the project in January.

By March, Ms Violette told The Bee that her students were already working to create the mobile application, based on a responsive design that improves the life of the user. The concept for the application was already focusing on addressing the seemingly growing apathy of youth and politics by encouraging youth to be interested and active in local, state, and national politics. The CTIA students were also preparing for the expo already, knowing it would require them to bring the product “from concept to market,” as Ms Violette explained at the time.

The Connecticut Student Innovation Expo was held on May 17 at the Governor William A. O’Neill State Armory in Hartford. According to a description for the expo, it is “an annual highlight for the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection and affiliated organizations.”

This year all participating students responded to different challenges around the idea of responsible design. Other groups from NHS also participated and earned top recognition for other projects at the expo.

After meeting some of the students at the expo, Howie Horvath, who volunteered as a judge at the expo, decided to visit NHS to learn more about the project from the students. He met with the students and Ms Violette on Tuesday, June 10. Brandon Patterson, a political science major at Drew University, joined Mr Horvath for the visit.

Mr Horvath said he wanted to see and hear from the students “first hand” after being blown away by them at the expo.

“It was so impressive”, Mr Horvath said, who said he was also interested in learning where the students intend to go next.

NHS student Mason Galanis explained how the CTIA class formed the students in to “more of a family” throughout the course.

Jackie Winkler said the students began working on the project by brainstorming. They created a thought-mapping chart with all of the ideas from the class members on it. From there, Jackie said the students used a process of elimination to boil the ideas down to focusing on something to do with politics.

“We just kind of built off from there,” said Jackie.

The CTIA students also collaborated with NHS student Baxter Hankin, who created the website MinorsVote.com, which allows minors to voice political opinions, in 2012.

Mr Horvath congratulated the students on coming up with a “phenomenal idea” and offered encouragement to further expand the scope of the application beyond the class during his visit.

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