Do your mobile’s constant alerts prevent you from studying? Do you sometimes forget to take your medication?  Do you want to get a better grade in History, but don’t know how? The students at Catalonian schools who have taken the course “App Education” have the solutions.

Friday 5 June 2015, TecnoCampus in Mataró hosted the celebration of the second edition of the mSchools App Awards, a competition featuring mobile applications developed by Catalonian students. Beginning in the late afternoon, the creators of the 24 finalist applications (more than 120 students) presented their projects at a fairground-like forum favouring interaction between participants, the public and the judging panel.

The contest, an initiative of Mobile World Capital Barcelona in partnership with Generalitat de Catalunya, Ajuntament de Barcelona and GSMA, represents the culmination of the process launched at the start of the academic year  with the elective “App Education,” taken by some 12,000 students, mainly in their 4th-year of Obligatory Secondary Education (ESO), but also senior school and vocational training pupils.

Altogether 137 application projects were submitted: from among these, only 24 were ultimately finalists, and 7 won prizes. The judging panel issued awards to 2 applications per category – one created by ESO students, and another for senior school and vocational training students. There was also a seventh award determined by a popular vote amongst event attendees.

Prizes for the top Leisure and Personal Management apps

The Blocker: 4th-year ESO students from the Institut d’Altafulla (Altafulla) created an application that allows users to disconnect certain applications on their mobiles in order to prevent potential distractions. It is basically intended to allow users to study better, but can also be useful in other cases, such as at dinners and get-togethers with friends or family.

Mazes of Fantasy: This game of labyrinths, which demands skill and a steady hand, is a mobile application project created by students at the Institut Caparrella (Lleida). By inclining his mobile, the user must get a ball to take the right path, making its way to the end of the maze.

Prizes for the best Community Services and Citizenship apps 

Elderly: 4 ESO students from the Institut Josep Vallverdú (Les Borges Blanques) created an app to help seniors take their medications on schedule. The application is also designed to inform relatives in the event that they fail to do so.

ArsLonga: Senior school students at the Escola Virolai (Barcelona) developed an app designed for tourists and museum enthusiasts who want to stay up to date on all the events slated at the different facilities in Barcelona. ArsLonga is a customisable app that synchs museums’ calendars with the users mobiles so that they receive instant alerts when there are events of interest to them in the city.

Prizes for the top educational applications

Don’ t Forget It: 4th-year ESO students at the SI Gurb (Gurb) school created an app focused on helping students to improve their ability to learn and remember. Through a game involving the association of images, this application allows one to generate connections between concepts and words, thereby developing his memorization capacity.

Aprèn història amb Willy (Learn History with Willy): Among the projects by senior school and vocational training students, the best was that by students at the Institut Roseta Mauri (Reus). This educational app helps young people to prepare for the PAU (University Access Exams) in a fun and dynamic way, without books or notebooks, using nothing but their mobile phones. Willy, a friendly elephant, asks the students questions and evaluates their answers. When pupils provide the right answers they win points, which they can share with their friends or through the social networks.

Audience Award 

Hand Cook: A group of 5 4th-year ESO students at the Institut Ernest Lluch (Barcelona) produced an application that suggests recipes one can make with the ingredients available in his refrigerator. This app turned out to be the attendees’ favourite.

Those making up the 7 winning groups, around 35 students, will receive a stay at the first mSchools Tech Camp, a summer camp specifically devised to expand these students’ programming knowledge, this training being combined with other recreational and leisure activities.

In addition to this exciting prize, Zurich gave out Chromebooks to each one of the competition’s winners, a work tool they will later be able to use at the camp. Finally, Xnergic held drawings for slots at several of its activities, created to foment a sense of technological vocation amongst participants.

After two academic years in Catalonian classrooms, more than 17,000 students have learned to develop mobile applications thanks to the “App Education” course. Due to the success of these two events, the Regional Government of Catalonia’s Education Minister, Irene Rigau, announced that, beginning in 2015-2016 academic year,”App Education” will become a core class for all 3rd-year ESO students in Catalonia.

In this way the mSchools programme has demonstrated its sensitivity to the educational needs of young people, helping them to develop skills essential to their future success.