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MIDDLETON -- School is back in session and some middle school students in Middleton are hard at work reading, writing -- and programming.

The students are using software to create apps for smart phones and they've received recognition for their work through a nationwide contest.

VERIZON INNOVATIVE APP CHALLENGE

The students are tasked with creating a science or engineering app that solves a problem. Last year, a group of students in Bob Santi's computer technology classes took on the same challenge.

Middleton is basically leading the way in computer apps, said Santi.

Eighth-grader Luke Watts was part of the five person team that participated in last year's Verizon contest.

I came up with the idea of having an app that was based around the periodic table of elements, said Watts.

The group designed the app using computer software available at Middleton Middle School.

Well, the program we use is called app inventor that Google invented several years ago that they ended up giving to MIT, added Santi.

THE PERIODIC TABLE STUDY GUIDE

Students used their technical skills to develop the app based on Watts' periodic table idea. Think of electronic flashcards, available anytime on your cell phone.

It would give you an element and you would have to say the abbreviation, said Watts. They could just download this app and it would help them study.

The idea was well received and students were named best in state by the Verizon judges. The school received a plaque and all five students won high-end headphones. the experience has motivated Watts and some of his teammates.

I'm excited to do that again this year, he said.

CONTEST DETAILS

Students have until December to work out a new idea for an app and send it to Verizon. The Middleton students involved in Bob Santi's classes are still brainstorming ideas.

Luke Watts told us it's exciting to think students from Idaho could build a working app downloadable around the world.

It's cool to make something like this. A little tool that anybody can use, said Watts.

National winners of the Verizon Innovative App Contest get a $20,000 nationwide grant to make their app a reality with the help of mentors and designers.

No matter what the outcome, Santi told us that working with students to create app designs is helping them build confidence and technology based skills that will last them a lifetime.

I've never seen anyone more excited about the accomplishment that they got from building this app, said Santi.

You can learn more about the Verizon Innovative App Challenge by clicking here.

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