Teams of girls from have been impressing executives and techies from across the Bay Area this past week, as they have taken the stage to pitch their ideas for new apps as part of the 2012 Technovation Challenge.
The annual competition aims to promote women in technology by giving girls the skills and confidence they need to be successful in computer science and entrepreneurship.
As teams of female high school students come up with their ideas for new apps - inspired by science education - mentors from some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley mentor them not only to help them develop their app successfully, but also to help them build their self-esteem and confidence and start to see themselves as leaders and inventors.
Google hosted a Technovation pitch event at its Mountain View headquarters this past week, and a national pitch night was held at Intel in Santa Clara.
"Team Forte" from MVHS took first place for their app, "Intoxication Station," which helps foster awareness of the dangers of teen drinking and driving while intoxicated. If a teen thinks a friend might be in danger, the app lists symptoms to help the friend gauge how intoxicated their friend might be, gives tips on how to talk he or she out of driving drunk, how to friend the friend a safe ride home, and even how to treat a hangover.
The team "Marvelous Mechanics" from MVHS took second place for their app "Dude, What's Wrong with My Car?" The app aims to help teen drivers determine if there is a problem with their car, provide nearby mechanics or tow trucks they can call if they are in need of help, and gives advice on what to do if they get in a car accident.
"Team 5" from MVHS took third place with their app, "Go Audio," which helps users record, play back and organize audio files. The app can help in many types of situations, but is especially useful for learning, the girls from Team 5 said.
"Users can record their own content into the phone, and then play it back multiple times, learning through iteration and auditory communication," the girls explained for their pitch. "This app is very well-suited to science education, as the complex processes studied in biology, chemistry and physics must be explained thoroughly - something that can be time-consuming and monotonous on paper."
During pitch events, each team was given just four minutes to pitch their app concept and design to an audience of parents, teachers, Technovation representatives and judges, and business executives.
Judges and speakers for the events featured such innovators and business moguls as Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare; Charles Best, founder of Donors Choose; Gene Alston, the vice-president of Groupon; Jessical Steel, vice-president of Pandora; Doug Leeds, CEO of Ask.com; and many more.
For more information on the Technovation Challenge, visit the organization's website.