A small town high school in Minnesota is using technology to solve some big time problems facing many teens. A group of students created a smart phone app which lets their classmates reach out for help if they’re overwhelmed with the challenges of life, like anxiety and bullying. The girls have already won an award for their development. Fox’s Jonathan Choe reports.
Zimprich says: “We all know each other and care about each other.”
Cleveland Minnesota, a small rural community in the southern part of the state with rich fertile land. Known more for producing crops rather than cool technology. That all changed recently after these girls in Kelly McMillen’s high school business class, (Breanne Beck, Hannah Zimprich, Kaleigh McCabe, Olivia Kester, Stephanie Holicky) won the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a statewide competition requiring students to solve real world problems.
Kelly McMillen: “They had their disagreements, but I didn’t have anything to do with it. They fixed it all themselves.”
This K-12 school received $5,000, and the girls got brand new tablets. But for 16 year old Olivia Kester, trying to help others who’ve been bullied or struggled with personal hurts, was much more important.
Kaleigh McCabe: “I think this is more of a real world problem that many people have gone through and will probably go through.”
Olivia Kester: “And that’s kind of what the app is for, to just go to a friend if you don’t have one.”
After trial and error they came up with Precise Advice Counselors or PAC. it allows students to instantly call or text a real person anonymously for help, if they’re ever down, or facing the typical challenges of life.
Hannah Zimprich: “There’s no judging with someone you don’t know on an app. You don’t have to be afraid if they’re going to tell someone, since we’re from a small school.”
Part of the project required them to develop a short video demonstrating how it works, even without any producing or acting experience.
As the Minnesota representatives, they’re now facing off against teams from every other state for the privilege of working with tech experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and $15,000 in cash to make this small town idea, into a big time reality.