The Lenovo Scholar Network, working in partnership with the National Academy Foundation (NAF), encourages the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs by providing high school students with an intensive mobile application development program. In addition to cultivating interest in STEM subjects among underserved high school students, the Lenovo Scholar Network also provides them with many of the technological skills needed to succeed in the 21st century.
Once a NAF academy (there are nearly 700 such academies across 38 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) is selected to join the Lenovo Scholar Network , the students spend the school year designing, coding, developing, and testing a mobile app, and creating a plan to take the app to market. Students work on tablets and PCs provided by Lenovo. They also use the MIT Center for Mobile Learning’s App Inventor, a web-based tool for creating Android apps, to build and test their apps on the Lenovo devices.
At the end of the school year, student teams enter their projects into the Lenovo Scholar Network’s national competition. Winners are selected each summer, then the process begins again in the fall.
The NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are ready for college, careers, and their future. Since 1982, NAF has been working with high schools in high-needs communities to implement NAF academies, which are small learning communities within traditional high schools.
NAF academies ignite students’ passion for learning and give businesses the opportunity to shape America’s future workforce by transforming the learning environment to include STEM-infused, industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experiences, including internships. In 2014, NAF academies reported 97 percent of seniors graduated and 93 percent of graduates planned to go to college.
The Lenovo Scholar Network also partners with MIT for use of its App Inventor, a blocks-based programming tool that allows everyone—even novices—to start programming and build fully functional apps for Android devices. Newcomers to App Inventor can have their first app up and running in an hour or less, and can program more complex apps in significantly less time than with more traditional, text-based languages.
This program builds on a successful 2012 pilot where high school students from five NAF IT academies created and launched apps, some of which are now available to the public on Google Play. Today, the Lenovo Scholar Network continues to receive numerous applications from NAF academies across the United States eager to participate in the program. Lenovo and NAF are proud to announce that 20 new NAF academies have been invited to participate in the Lenovo Scholar Network beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, for a total of 50 academies in the program.
The 2016 winners of the national competition were diverse and reflected the various issues app building can address. For example, students at North Division High School Academy of IT in Milwaukee created Emoji Encouragement. This app supports children with health issues and those with low self-esteem by providing words of encouragement when they choose emojis that relate to their current state of mind.
In addition, students at Crooms Academy of Information Technology in Sanford, Florida, created Student Tracker 9000. This app helps teachers and students stay in contact while on field trips.
See the complete list of 2016 winners and learn more about their projects here.