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Northley Student App Selected as best in State

ASTON, PA –A team of students at Northley Middle school in Aston, Pa. recently learned that their app, Garden Aid, was selected as Best in State in the Verizon Innovative Learning App Challenge.  They are the only middle school in Pennsylvania to earn this award. A total of 94 teams of middle and high school students were named Best in State winners of the fifth annual Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge, a nationwide contest challenging students to design mobile app concepts aimed at improving and solving for societal issues in their schools and communities.


Northley students in the 6th grade seminar program began this process in September as a challenge to see the world a little bit bigger. Students were asked to identify problems they are aware of in their community, school or the nation as a whole, and to come up with a solution that could solve this problem using a mobile app. 


"The students really dive into the prep and research part of the project, and propose a lot of ideas,” stated Mrs. Renee DiPietro, a gifted support teacher at Northley. “We vote as a class on the ideas that we want to do for the project and then create our groups. The students then create amazing mobile app concepts that solve real world problems around them that affect them or others in their lives.  It’s a wonderful challenge for the students to present all their information and refine their writing, their scripts and their video editing to tell their concept stories/solutions in only three minutes.”


Northley 6th grader Katelynn Strehle had the idea for Garden Aid after working with her neighbor and seeing her struggle to keep her garden healthy.  


Kaitlynn stated, “Garden Aid became an idea because my neighbor pulled a muscle in her arm and she wasn't able to take care of her garden. She wanted my help, and I did when I could, but I wasn't always around.  Her tomatoes over grew a lot and her garden decomposed into the ground. It did not turn out so well. As we were working on our project in class, I wanted to think of an app that could help her. So that's why I thought of Garden Aid. I wanted to help my neighbor and others around the world who might need help with their gardens." 


The app will tell you how much water your plant needs if it has rained recently or if it rains often. Another problem is not enough water. If you live where there is not a lot of rain you may also have trouble with your garden. Our app will tell you how much to water and how often to water your plants if you are in a drought or an area with little rain. Many people also want to have an organic vegetable or fruit garden. Our app will give you tips


The Best in State winners were chosen from more than 1,800 teams from across the country who submitted concepts for review by a panel of judges assembled by the Technology Student Association (TSA). As a Best in State team, Northley will receive $5,000 from the Verizon Foundation for their school, club or organization, along with tablets for each student team member. The team will now compete to earn one of eight Best in Nation awards, selected by a panel of education and industry experts, and the Fan Favorite award, determined by public voting.


The eight teams named Best in Nation and the team voted as Fan Favorite will receive an additional $15,000 for their school, club or organization, the chance to build their concepts into working apps with experts from MIT and an all-expenses-paid trip to the TSA Conference in Orlando, Fla. in June 2017. 


Over the past four years, winners of the Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge worked with experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab to produce apps that have provided solutions, such as helping blind students navigate schools, tracking sports-related concussions and making learning easier for autistic classmates.  


Voting for the Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge Fan Favorite award opens January 16, 2017 and ends February 14, 2017. Visit To vote, review Northley’s submission and text the code GARDEN to 22333. Voting is free and standard texting rates apply, according to your service plan. Best in Nation and Fan Favorite winning teams will be announced on February 15, 2017


Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation, created the annual app challenge in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, to spark greater student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and provide hands-on learning experiences.




For more information, please contact:

Christa Fazio

610-497-6300, extension 1330