Pictured are, from left, Connor Elsea, Timothy Shertzer, Felecia Foy, John Bernard and Eli Langley

Natchitoches, LA – An app developed by five students at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts was chosen as the Best in State in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

The five students, all seniors, are Eli Langley of Elton, Felecia Foy of Benton, Timothy Shertzer of Pineville, John Bernard of Baton Rouge and Connor Elsea of Denham Springs.

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a nationwide contest for middle- and high-school aged students that challenges them to develop concepts for mobile apps that solve a problem in their community. It is a unique, hands-on learning program that teaches collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurship as well as STEM skills and coding. Its aim is to equip students with skills needed to succeed in the jobs of the future, delivering to students the promise of a brighter future.

The app is called Disastra and is intended to be used as an aid in the event of an emergency. The app holds information on emergency contacts, check lists for keeping safe in emergencies and methods of communicating with family, loved ones and the authorities in a situation of danger.

“We chose to build this app after considering and discussing Louisiana’s tragic history with hurricanes and the pain it caused some areas of our state,” said Connor Elsea. “Originally, we thought of an idea for a simplistic hurricane aid app, but realized the process and information were similar and could be passed to other situations. The app is now slated to aid all disaster-type situations.”

As the Best in State, the team won a $5,000 grant for the school, a mobile tablet for each team member and the opportunity to compete for the title of Best in Region and Best in Nation.    To help LSMSA win the nationwide App Challenge Fan Favorite award and $15,000 more, text DISASTRA1 to 22333 by Sunday, Jan. 31. If LSMSA receives the most votes, it wins.