PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – Three outstanding second-year students from Palm Harbor University High School have won a mobile app design competition and will now come forward to pitch their idea to leading players.
According to the school, Aanya Bhandari, Alexandra Unbehagen and Nia Balieva are the youngest winners of the competition, sponsored by Next Generation Tech 360.
The ladies have designed an eco-friendly app called “Green Print” to allow users to track different types of recyclables and waste to compete with others. The application comes with an “achievements” page for the competitors. Points are earned through the app, which actually helps nonprofits, such as those who plant trees and fight deforestation.
âWe want to start with the Induvials and reduce their carbon footprint and we have implemented three different functionalities to do this, namely the trackersâ¦ which are with gas, bottles and cans andâ¦ also garbage bagsâ, a explained Balieva.
They started by studying and investigating their own high school, where they are all enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program and take many courses together.
âWe basically tried to make it a fun, interactive app that people can use. And we kind of wanted to target teens first, because it’s a very teen-centric thing, âsaid Bhandari. “We want to start with the younger generation and inspire them to adopt these habits so that they can continue for posterity and teach their children exactly what to do.”
They discovered that many students at the school were passionate about climate change issues and the environment. Unbehagen said this motivated the three-person team to create the best app possible, focusing on the beauty of Palm Harbor.
The students, who worked on their app showcase throughout the pandemic, won a $ 10,000 grant and the opportunity to pitch their idea to ‘Shark Tank’ Kevin Harrington and a business executive. Raymond James in management next month.
âWe’re really nervous about our pitch with Kevin just because he’s seen so many start-ups and so many pitches, so standing out is a really big deal,â Bhandari said.
The team was due to showcase their product in Harrington on Thursday.
The team hopes that âGreen Printâ will be available on the iPhone App Store as well as the Google Play Store by the end of June.
The three students received advice for girls their age who wanted to get into the STEM and tech fields.
ââ¦ Some obstacles like that, I don’t even consider them. I just put myself in what I want to do and I don’t let that, precisely because I am a woman, prevent me from doing things. Sure, whatever you want to do, do it. Take the risk and do it, âBalieva said.
âGrowing up I went to many clubs and programs that focused on coding and noticed it was very male dominated. It really motivated me to kind of encourage other girls in tech. I founded the ‘Girls Who Code’ club in [school,]Bhandari said. âI’m very motivated to encourage so many young girls to get into STEM, tech, IT, all of those good things. My post … is just to try every opportunity available to you, just give it a try, see if you like it. ”
“I would say it’s really bad as a society toâ¦ just slap a label on a profession and say, ‘This is for boys, this is for girls.’ I don’t believe that a certain profession has a gender, âBhandari said.
Bhandari also spoke of a mentor who gave him sound advice on moving forward with his education and career and the importance of bringing diversity to the table.
âShe always used to say, ‘nobody cares about your progress, nobody looks at you until you are on that pedestal,â Bhandari said. “And I think girls should really know that no one is going to laugh at you or judge you for starting, because everyone starts somewhere.”
âThey took a risk, went to market, developed this application and they have the opportunity to present it to a leading entrepreneur. That says a lot. There are no other students in the state of Florida doing this today, âsaid proud principal Teresa Patterson.