Showcasing Young Tech Inventions at the Clearly Mobile Innovation Challenge Competition
Students from Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science were given the opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges and live audience at the second annual Clearly Mobile Innovation Challenge June 3 at Howard University.
The mobile app development competition targets students hailing from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds.
The Clearly Mobile Innovation Challenge was created by Clearly Innovative Inc., a group of entrepreneurs and STEM professionals whose mission is to expose students to the opportunities in tech entrepreneurship. The event is the culmination of the year-long Start-up Middle School Program sponsored by Comcast.
The class combines traditional entrepreneurship studies with computer science instruction, said Yohance Maquebela, the middle school’s executive director said..
“We know that there’re too few African American students that are going into the computer science and learning program so we knew we had to develop a computer science program,” Maquebela said. “Just the knowledge of that wasn’t enough, but we wanted to be able to link them with folks a little bit older than them from the communities and same neighborhoods who actually went on to be successful in the industry.”
During the program, the students are taught how to code the products they would eventually sell, as well as pitch developments, marketing plans and business theory which they presented to the judges.
The winning team was 12-year-old Busayo Bird-Maqubela, and 13-year old Miles Peterson, who wanted to share their love for hip-hop music and trends through their app called The Five Elements. The app aims to increase the ease of finding information about the hip-hop genre with the help of several platforms, which are comprised of a Five Elements-branded hip-hop magazine and clothing shop; “my studio,” a virtual space where musicians and aspiring musicians come together to collaborate; and TFE Music, a music app which suggests songs to users; and rapping and DJ services.
“We chose this app because as a DJ and a rapper we both love hiphop,” said Peterson.
The winning team won the opportunity to visit Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia as well as a $50 gift card.
“I learned how to code, I’ve learned how to operate a successful business and marketing strategies including the different app products,” Bird-Maqubela said. “This experience has really opened up my eyes about technology and what it really means and how far we can go as African-Americans and what it can really do for us.”
Bird-Maqubela added that the class opened his eyes to a plethora of possibilities in the world of coding and technology. The aspiring DJ plans to continue working on coming up with more app ideas and working on coding this summer.
Other submissions in the app challenge included inventions that assembled outfits in a short amount of time; a budget management app that helps young adults organize their finances; and an app which helps inventors to build a three-dimensional prototype of their product. The latter was among the 81 Best-in-State winners in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.