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3 Paradise Valley High students are finalists for Smart City Hack competition


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  • Becky Kelbaugh/Paradise Valley Unified School District

Hayden Araza, Far Left, Susan Addison, Left, Giselle Col, Right, And Karen Mensing, Far Right. A Team Of Three PVSchools' Students Will Face Competition From Entrepreneurs, Innovators And Businesses As The Finalists Vie For The Winning Title Of The Smart City Hack 2017 Competition. Photo Courtesy PV Schools

A team of three PVSchools‘ students will face competition from entrepreneurs, innovators and businesses as the finalists vie for the winning title of the Smart City Hack 2017 competition.

The Smart City Hack competition empowers citizens around the world to create their smart cities. Their aim is to help local residents build and showcase technology solutions that answer the most pressing urban challenges facing us all.

The PVSchools team is the only high school team in the competition. PVSchools was asked to consider a student team applying to the competition through LoLa, Internet 2, and Arizona Sun Corridor Network relationships.

The IT Department worked with high school staff to find students who were an appropriate fit. They needed to be tech savvy, have musical talents and of course be interested and available to put in the time required. The students selected for the team included Susan Addison, a student at Pinnacle High School; Giselle Coll, a student at Shadow Mountain High School; and Hayden Araza, a student at Paradise Valley High School. The team worked together under the direction of teacher chaperones, Karen Mensing, IT integration specialist; and Norm Pratt, director of Fine Arts; to develop and create the World Symphony app.

The World Symphony app connects musicians and artists from around the world the opportunity to interact with one another. The app utilizes low latency audio and video transmissions (LoLa node) with the goal of connecting artists and performers so they can share ideas, practice together, teach each other or simply play music. Users are encouraged to go to a location such as a public community center, arts center or school where there is a LoLa node accessibility and use it to communicate and connect with others who are available and online.

The World Symphony app addresses the challenge of empowering the City of Phoenix to become a smarter, better, more sustainable city by helping to connect and educate the community through the use of music and technology. It encourages Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM), which is ideal for fostering young minds to become more creative.

“By combining the arts with technology, we are opening doors for users of various skill levels. The World Symphony app will allow for guest speakers in schools across the globe to work collaboratively with teachers, as well as allowing users to learn and create music together. By learning about a variety of music, students will gain new perspectives about different cultures, thus immersing them in new ideas and concepts that will spark creativity and higher level thinking. Not only will our project unite artistic and tech-minded individuals, but it will also help with the challenge of transportation,” said Ms. Mensing.

This app will allow users to practice their art together even if they live on opposite sides of the world. While there are other apps such as Facetime or Skype that allow for video conferencing, none of these platforms allow for the low-latency, high-quality audio and video conferencing that the LoLa makes possible. LoLa nodes will be placed in venues like schools, public community centers, libraries and performing art centers. This will eliminate travel time and costs.The World Symphony app will help make Phoenix a smarter, better city by helping to unify the community, by bringing unique experiences into classrooms and eliminating transportation and location as an obstacle.

The winning app will be announced on Oct. 13th at Galvanize in downtown Phoenix. Anyone is welcome to attend; however, you must register for the free tickets. The City Finale Grand Champion of the Smart City Hack will get $3,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Barcelona, Spain in November for the international competition. The first place winner will receive $1,000 and the second runner-up will receive $500.

For more information about Smart City Hack, please visit https://smartcityhack.com/phoenix/.

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