A team of former Hillcrest Community School students has advanced to the national Technovation Challenge Appapalooza Competition after receiving top marks at a regional event earlier this month.
The competition invites girls ages 10-18 to develop a concept for a mobile app, create a business plan, design, code and pitch the app. Each team is given four minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges and four minutes to answers questions. All apps developed are required to align with a United Nations Sustainable Goal.
The “Hillcrest Tech Girlz” team is one of nine to advance to the national competition from a pool of 63 teams. In addition to advancing to the national competition, the team was also chosen to pitch their app to a “sharks” panel of investors and were awarded a $1,000 cash prize.
Team members Elise Fischer, Annemarie Schloo, Anna Thompson, Ruby Kettenun and Anaiyah Franklin are all sixth graders who attended Hillcrest in their elementary years but currently attend four different middle schools: Bloomington’s Oak Grove, Olson, and Valley View middle schools and Scott Highland Middle School, Apple Valley.
Hillcrest Tech Girlz hope to advance to the World Pitch in San Francisco for a grand prize of $5,000 to start their business.
The team began developing their app and entrepreneurial plan in January under the guidance of Coach Jennifer Carlson, a fifth grade teacher at Hillcrest, and local professional mentors.
Hillcrest Tech Girlz was one of five teams coached by Carlson, the other four comprised of Hillcrest fifth graders.
The experience may be part of an annual tradition at Hillcrest. Said fifth grader and first-time competitor Olivia Laechelt, “It was a lot of work, but I can’t wait to do it again next year!”