Apps off to their inventive flair

Caithness students win two out of six awards for digital innovation. Julia Belgutay reports

Caithness is not known as a hub for software development. But students from Wick High School last week scooped two out of six awards for creating innovative apps for mobile devices.

It was the first time a Scottish school has entered the Apps for Good awards, a UK-based technology education initiative set up in 2010, which aims to transform the way technology is taught in schools.

This year, the competition was open to more than 5,600 students in almost 100 schools. The winning entries were chosen from 400 apps.

Five teams from Wick made the finals, after developing their apps as coursework and passing a Dragons' Den-style selection process at the school.

Students John Gunn, 15, Keiran Christie, 15, and Ryan Cormack, 14, won the Power to do More - Getting the Most from your Time category with their farm management app, which helps farmers to manage cattle electronically and reduces paperwork.

Rebekah Graham, 14, Jeri Cormack, 14, Caitlin Carter, 14, and Beth Crawford, 15, picked up the title for the Learning and Information - Helping Others Learn and Using Information for Good category. Their app aims to help keep dogs healthy and allows dog owners to set up a profile for their pets and earn points for good nutrition and exercise in a similar style to the way fitness apps work for humans. Both teams will have the chance to see their apps further developed by professionals.

Computing science teacher Chris Aitken, who won a Teacher of the Year award at the event, had designed the course so the school could take part in the initiative. He said: "Being the first school in Scotland to be part of this and having a staggering five teams make it through to the national finals is amazing."

Students came up with their own ideas, assessed feasibility and agreed business models from product design to marketing. Working in teams, they used school equipment and smartphones provided by Apps for Good.

The other three apps from Wick High that made it to the London final were a "student voice" app that allows students to raise issues with management, an app to help speech, hearing, and visually impaired people to cope with their daily lives and an app to collate social media information on your favourite band.

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