Valley students leading the way with mobile app

Students at Resaca Middle School in Los Fresnos cheered, clapped and gave fellow student Andres Salas a standing ovation Wednesday.

Not just because he's charismatic and hopes to one day become the principal at the school, but because he's the inspiration behind a ground breaking app that put his school on the map, and captured the attention of mobile giant Verizon.

"There is a smile on my face and it makes me happy, and I'm still the inspiration, said Salas.

Led by sixth-grade science teacher Maggie Bolado, a group of six girls, only 11 to 12-years-old, is one of eight national champions in this year's Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

Their creation HelloNavi is an app that will help the blind, like Andres, get around.

"Not only is he really nice and sweet, but he deserves something easier for him, so he can learn to get around these halls as easy as we do," team leader Cassandra Baquero said.

The app will help direct Andres to his destination by learning how many steps it takes him to get from one place to another. If he ever gets lost, HelloNavi will direct him back on-path and inform him how many more steps are left to reach his destination.

We did a lot of interviews with Andres. Bolado said. We took turns blindfolded going down the (hall), and we just realized that we just took a lot of things for granted - a lot of simple little maneuvers."

Bolado said it takes an average of 12 weeks for Andres to learn his way around new buildings, but it's expected that time will be cut at least in half with the HelloNavi app in hand.

"Thank you 6th grade girls, (I TMm) so happy, thank you Ms. Bolado, since you call me the inspiration, I will always be it, Andres said, and it's going to change my life."

This is the second year Verizon puts on the student challenge Top executives said it's because the U.S. is lagging in the fields of math and science.

"We have three million jobs in the fields of science math engineering and technology that we don TMt have enough qualified people (for)," Verizon Executive Barbara Walker said.

Verizon's win in all of this? A return on their investment with potential future employees.