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Good Deeds that Leap from Your Phone

Shades Valley High School’s student team learns of its Best in Nation win in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge and accepts a $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation. Teacher Steven McDaniel and Verizon representatives Bob Davis, Julie Smith and Monica Pate celebrate the moment.

Shades Valley High School’s student team learns of its Best in Nation win in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge and accepts a $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation. Teacher Steven McDaniel and Verizon representatives Bob Davis, Julie Smith and Monica Pate celebrate the moment.

Ever wish you could volunteer more in the community but hold yourself back because you’re not sure what the opportunities are and how your schedule might fit (or not fit) them?

Shades Valley High School in Irondale has an app for that.

A team of students from the school won the title Best in Nation in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge last month with Vocal, their app that uses three calendars on your smart phone to sync up volunteer events. The three-calendar system displays volunteer events by area, organizations that users like and events that friends are attending. 

“The problem with volunteering for most people is that they really don’t have the time to find each and every event around them,” team member Jerry Hu says in a YouTube video about the project.

Vocal also allows users to manage their time by tracking hours and displaying how they are helping out in the community, which students can find handy when it’s time to fill out college applications. It also allows groups of friends to volunteer together for causes that are important to them.

Shades Valley High is one of four high schools and eight total schools, combining middle and high schools, selected in the nation. Now, as a Best in Nation winner selected from more than 1,000 entries, they will work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to develop the concept into a working app on the brand new tablets the team members have won. 

In addition to working with MIT, the school was awarded $20,000 for STEM education, each student received a Samsung tablet and the team is invited to present Vocal at the 2015 National Technology Student Association Conference in Dallas in June 2015.

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