FURST CLASS TECHIES
A pair of Kasson-Mantorville middle school students has hit the national championship with their technovation project, allowing them the opportunity to show it off to the president of the U.S. this week.
Andrea Richard and Lydia Mindermann, both eighth-graders, were chosen to take part in the White House Science Fair on Wednesday. They joined other top students from around the country that made presentations in the Executive Mansion. Sharie Furst, the technovation coach at K-M, accompanied the local students.
Richard and Mindermann achieved the high honor by developing a smartphone app called Mayo Free Time. They said the app is aimed at helping Mayo Clinic patients and visitors find their way around the clinic and Rochester.
The girls created the app last year for the Technovation Challenge, which is a computer coding competition to encourage girls to purse education and careers in technology fields. Rylee Melius, another eighth-grader, also helped with the project, but is no longer at the school. The team received assistance from mentor Kris Kendall, an IBM software engineer.
“I don’t think the girls have any idea how much this (honor) can make a difference in their future,” Furst said in describing the trip to the White House. “This will be one of those stopping points on their life timeline,” she said, adding she is extremely proud of their accomplishment.
K-M Middle School Principal Michelle Krell also shared in the excitement of finding out what her students had accomplished. “This is an experience of a lifetime,” Krell said. “They have worked very hard and this shows that hard work, dedication and perseverance pay off.”
Technovation is the global technology entrepreneurship program exclusively for girls ages 10 to 18.
Achieving such an honor is certainly a huge accomplishment, but Furst said that wasn’t their main focus when they began creating the project more than a year ago. “Our real goal is to make a difference for the community,” she said. “It’s all about helping those people in crisis and great stress. We win by helping all these people.”