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STEM students win Best in State in Verizon's Innovative App Challenge

Stem HCS Freshman students from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program at the Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology (AAST) won Best in State among 308 entries in the 2015 Verizon Innovative App Challenge. As the winner of Best In State, the school team is now in the running to become one of three high schools that will be named the Best in the South Region on January 16.

Team members Katie Mann, McGee Dunn, Dylan Wilkins, Zach Floyd, TJ Leisher, Jalen Garner, and Connor Coan developed the application concept for Power Presenter, which earned top points for its creativity, innovative design, and application of STEM principles.  Power Presenter addresses the common fear of public speaking with key features of a video recorder, teleprompter, and a timer. The video recorder “beeps” when a speaker stutters, displays long silences or utters audible pauses such as “um” or “uh”. The teleprompter helps presenters read materials clearly. The timer keeps the student on track to keep the presentation within an allocated time frame. Students attending the STEM program are frequently expected to be able to make public presentations for project-based learning. The Power Presenter app helps to develop and refine public speaking and presentation skills.

As the winner of Best in State, the school team has an exclusive invitation to participate in a live interactive Google Hangout with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) “Bionic Man”, Hugh Herr, on Wednesday, January 14 from 1:30 – 2:15 p.m.

In 2011, TIME magazine coined Herr the “Leader of the Bionic Age” due to his work in the field of biomechatronics–technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. Currently, as Director of the Biomechatronics Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, Herr is pioneering a new class of biohybrid smart prostheses and exoskeletons to improve the quality of life for thousands of people with physical challenges.

For more information, contact AAST Principal Robin Jones or Mindi Penn, freshman seminar teacher, at 843.903.8460.

To learn more about Professor Herr, view his TED talk at