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Tri-Tech Students Who Developed App To Visit White House

By Ty Beaver Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

Three Tri-Tech students will demonstrate for President Obama their winning app design to help students deal with stress and depression when they participate in the White House Science Fair next week.

The all-girl team was among four student groups nationally to win the Verizon Innovative App Challenge earlier this year.

The three, part of an original five-member team, along with their adviser are attending the science fair as honored guests, said district officials.

The students leave this week and get to spend some time in the nation's capital before the science fair Monday .

Their winning concept, Safe&Sound, was inspired by the social and emotional ups and downs of being a teenager, along with the rash of school shootings committed by students, particularly one in Marysville.

The app is designed to include a list of hotlines for students to call in an emergency, advice on how to talk to others about problems, push notifications on how to get through the day and a journal feature.

The team's victory earned them tablet computers of their own and a $20,000 check for Tri-Tech.

River's Edge High School senior Amanda Arellano, Kiona-Benton City High School junior Stephanie Lopez and Mid-Columbia Partnership junior Chloe Westphal are expected to blog about their trip. The community can follow along at www.tritechteam.tumblr.com.

Marina Stepanov and Genesis Saucedo also helped develop the app.

An app design expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is now working with the students to make their concept a reality. The finished app is expected to be showcased in Dallas in June during the National Technology Student Association Conference.

Obama established the annual science fair in 2010 as a way to draw attention to the scientific accomplishments of the country's youth. This year's fair will have a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math.

"As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners," Obama said at last year's fair. "Because superstar biologists and engineers and rocket scientists and robot builders ... they're what's going to transform our society."

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