Guest Blog Sal McKeown: The Mad World of Apps for Good

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Sal McKeownSal McKeown is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in education. Sal has taught in schools andcolleges, supporting students with the full range of learning needs from sensory disabilities to mental health issues and autism, but is probably best known for her work on dyslexia. Here, Sal continues her monthly blog series for bee-it, this time looking at the upcoming Apps for Good awards…

Ricky Martin is one of the judges of Apps for Good this year. Before you all start singing Vida Loca, think of Alan Sugar’s craggy features and the Apprentice 2012 and you will be on the right track. Having been on the receiving end of Claude Littner’s withering comments and apparent disdain, Ricky will know just how nerve racking the pitching process can be and will be sympathetic to the young people  aged 11-18 who have made it to the finals held to be held at the Barbican in London on Thursday 18 June.

Ricky is described as a ‘passionate scientist’ which seems a contradiction in terms but, rather than spending his time in labs doing research, he is at the sharp end of recruitment and founded Hyper Recruitment Solutions finding the right people for senior jobs in science and technology worldwide so he is an ideal choice for young people who are taking their first steps as technologists and entrepreneurs.

What is wonderful about the Apps for Good awards is that contenders have to ‘find real issues they care about and learn to build a mobile, web or social app to solve them’.  The process combines technology, business skills and team-working to create something useful and relevant.

This year there are 18 finalists in six categories and, just like a TV show, YOU can influence the decision because there is a People’s Choice Award which opens for business on 9th June.

Learning – Samsung

My World of Atoms –  The Boswells School, South East

Arty-fact – Stratford Girls’ Grammar School, West Midlands

Debate it – Connell Sixth Form College, North West

Sustainable Communities – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

GardenKing –  Latymer Upper School, London

Who Cares? – Denbigh High School, South East

ProblemPals – The Abbey School, South East

Connected Communities – TalkTalk

QuickTeam – Sutton Grammar School, South East

Pen Friend –  Bradley Stoke Community School, South West

Sound Clash – Latymer Upper School, London

Saving, Spending and Giving – Barclaycard

Pass It On – Wick High School, Scotland

Penny-A-Mile – Shireland Collegiate Academy, West Midlands

Jobs 4 You – Priestley College, North West

Productivity – SAP

STEMCity – Sutton Grammar School, South East

BOOKd – Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, South East

Sports Watch – Newquay Tretherras, South West

Information – Thomson Reuters

Finding Spoons – Wick High School, Scotland

One Click Politics –  Wick High School, Scotland

eID – Priestley College, North West

Last year four boys from year 9 at Sutton Grammar School for Boys won the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Tech London Advocates.   Oliver, Jashvanth, Tyler and Dylan realised that their parents were struggling to find suitable venues for children’s parties. Result: frustrated parents and disappointed children. They wanted an app which would make life easier for everyone by bringing together essential information in one place including the price, opening times, website and the number of people the venue could accommodate.

They were partnered with development agency Fuerte International and the app finally saw the light of day as PartySpot and is now available from Google Play. The app lets users:

● Search for party venues by type, capacity and location

● See the location of nearby venues on a map

● Display information and images of venues

● Rate and review venues

Strong contenders for The People’s Choice Awards are Penny-A-Mile from  Shireland Collegiate Academy, West Midlands, designed to help people get fit and donate to charity at the same time;  Problem Pals from The Abbey School in Reading that lets teenagers share their problems and get advice and support from others and Who Cares? from Denbigh High School in Luton which connects up young carers in the UK so they feel less isolated.

There will be considerable competition for this award and the organisers are looking for a big online vote.  Now is the time to check out who is in the running at It is, of course, quite possible that Sutton Grammar School for Boys, which has entries in two categories this year, might just scoop the pool again. We will keep you posted.

Votes for the People Award close on 18th June