Technovations decides on app for competition

Group hopes to promote teen volunteering


Emma Kempf

Juniors Caroline Garland, Greta Long and Kate Christiansen work on the app they are creating for Technovations on March 10.

Yonit Krebs

For the Technovation Challenge, junior Ilsa Olsen said the team of five girls decided to create an app that would make it easier for students to give back to their communities.

“We are making a volunteer app, and we’re trying to make it so someone can have an account and log in and just search for volunteer opportunities and track their own volunteer opportunities,” Olsen said.

Olsen said the activities she and her fellow app creators are involved in inspired them to create a volunteer app.

“A lot of us are in the National Honor Society, and we just saw the opportunity to get kids to volunteer more,” Olsen said. “I know a lot of us have volunteer positions that we do every week so that kind of inspired us to get other kids to do more.”

According to Technovations adviser Mark Miller, the app’s name is “Bloom,” and its goal is to help promote unity.

“They talked about it as a group, and they just said, ‘look at the state that our nation is in right now and how divided we are, and this app can hopefully get us to volunteer and to see the good that we can do for each other and hopefully bring us together,’” Miller said.

Miller said their app last year was not well received by the Technovations judges because it dealt with too serious a topic.

“Last year, we did an app that secretly notified people that a female was in a situation where she didn’t want to be, she didn’t feel comfortable,” Miller said. “They still wanted to incorporate something helping the community, helping people connect to volunteer experiences because almost all the girls in this group volunteer heavily so just kind of went from that to this app.”

According to Olsen, the group is making progress, but their busy schedules make it difficult to coordinate meetings.

“I think we’re a little bit ahead of where we are supposed to be at, and with our ideas, we’re all on the same page,” Olsen said. “I know all of us are super busy, so it’s kind of been hard for all of us to be at the same place at once every week.”

According to Olsen, the group is currently working on coding the app and developing a business plan.

“Right now we are focusing on coding the app, and then soon we are going to start designing what we want it to look like,” Olsen said. “Then a couple of us will begin working on our business plan because it’s not only creating an app, we also have to create a business plan with how the app works and how it’s influencing our community, so it’s a lot more than just coding.”

Miller said junior Greta Long took charge of coding the app with one of the three volunteer mentors who work in the programming field.

“One volunteer does a lot of programming and so him and Greta just kind of sat down and really kind of just sketched it out on paper, like what do you want this thing to look like, what do you want to do,” Miller said. “Then we used “App Inventor,” which is a free program on the internet, and they just went through with “App Inventor,” and with the help of someone who knows how to do it, it’s really quite cool.”

According to Miller, the business plan is an important part of their entry into the Technovations competition.

“The business plan component forces the girls to go through and create a five-year plan,” Miller said. “Technovations Minnesota, which runs the program, does a really good job of outlining what you need for your business plan, what you need for a budget, what type of business you want to be, and then what is it going to cost to run the first, second, fifth year, and it really breaks it down for us.”

Olsen said the focus Technovation places on encouraging women in the engineering and technology fields really inspired her to consider a future in STEM.

“I think it’s really empowering just knowing that we can do this all on our own and it opened my eyes to careers and kind of the STEM area, and those are where the jobs are at right now,” Olsen said.