If you could develop a mobile app to solve any problem in the world, what would you create?

TAF@Saghalie sophomores, juniors and seniors got to explore this question in depth and in action through an exciting mobile app development workshop sponsored and facilitated by F5, a Seattle-based application security and delivery networking company and strong TAF partner of 5 years. During this 2-day virtual workshop, F5 employees teamed up with groups of students to help develop, design, and launch a mobile app based on a social justice issue they are passionate about. Students used a collaborative interface design tool called Figma, where they could create their app together in real-time with the guidance and support of an experienced F5 employee. As they built their apps from scratch, students were challenged to consider things like user experience, interface design, functionality, and branding to create something that would offer a solution to problems they’ve either experienced or witnessed in their local communities.  

“We are thinking about making an app that can be a resource for students and kids of color to connect with professionals in STEM fields. A common problem that we see in society is that a lot of younger Black kids don’t see themselves in STEM professions because they don’t see anybody from their community in those professions, so we want to make an app that could connect them to resources like good education, funding, [and] professionals in the fields they want to go into,” shares Feliciana Ra’oof, a senior at TAF@SGH and member of Team 1.

Brainstorming & Planning

Team 1 - BLM in STEM

Other groups worked on creating apps to address homelessness, mental health, global warming, workplace inequality and other social justice issues. With only two days to get familiar with Figma, students and F5 volunteers worked quickly to pull their ideas together and build a prototype of their applications for the final presentation to the official F5 judge and other teams.

Students Using FIGMA Interface

“Overall it was a great learning experience and it was actually the funnest thing so far this week. This was a really great activity!” shared Aiden Blanco, a 12th grader at TAF@Saghalie. “It was really fun to learn what they [F5 volunteers] were teaching us. We learned the basic functions on how to make designs and shortcuts. Just learning these basic functions taught me how to make gradients, how to make different shapes, it was really interactive. Everyone could ask questions, everyone could understand. It was just fun!” 

Several hours and some technical difficulties later, all six teams had completed their first application prototypes and were ready to present them to the judge. Teachers, F5 employees, and TAF staff cheered on each team as they revealed their final products and explained the purpose and function of their applications. 

Final Application Presentations

It was a close competition with the top three winning teams scoring within 1 point of each other. After careful consideration, judge Monique Thomas revealed the winners: 

1st place – Team 3 Gen Zero App

2nd place – Team 4 Global Warming App

3rd place – Team 5 Connections App

As Zoom screens bursted with smiles, reactions, and muted applause, students congratulated and celebrated each other’s hard work. Simultaneously, the chat box populated with positive feedback and affirmations from students, teachers and F5 employees alike. The excitement and engagement was contagious and noticeable on-screen, leaving everyone with a sense of pride and accomplishment for their hard work. 

“One of the biggest blessings of working with organizations and corporations like F5 is that it gives our kids vision – it allows them to see themselves in the future, what’s possible.” shares Monique Hokett, Program Manager of Career-Connected Learning at TAF.  “We bring in people from tons of different fields — engineering, coding, and also non-STEM related careers — because it’s our job to give them [students] what they need and expose them to as many different career options as possible to set them up for success in their future. We need to give them vision so they know what they are capable of, what they can do. ” 

The F5 mobile app development workshop is just one of many career-connected learning opportunities that TAF provides students through key partnerships with STEM-related corporations and organizations. By bringing in industry professionals to volunteer and lead opportunities like innovation challenges, hackathons, workshops, internships, and student mentorships, we are able to engage and expose students to various career-fields and empower them with the necessary skills, experiences, and connections to pursue their post-secondary interests. 

To see those sparks in our kids is not just a plus for us, but that’s a huge plus for the companies that we work with – they get that added joy too, and exposure to bright, smart individuals for their own cause,” shares Monique. “We’re just making sure that no kid is left behind — that every kid has a chance and every kid can see a future for themselves when sometimes they’ve been told they’re not going to have one.” 

This is why it is crucial that TAF establishes strong partnerships across various sectors: to invest in the future of our students is to invest in the next generation of leaders, ideators, thinkers, and creators. Students deserve the kind of learning environments that empower them to explore various career options and pursue their post-secondary goals, no matter what path they choose to take. Help us bring more career-connected learning opportunities to students across our partner schools – partner with TAF today and help prepare the next generation of leaders for their futures beyond the classroom.

TAF announces Nortal U.S. as newest Alliance Member.