Local Girls Teams Dominate Montana App Challenge

Kalispell Girls Who Code sweep top four places, group encourages girls to learn computer coding and business skills

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that encourages girls in fourth through eighth grade to solve problems by learning computer coding and business skills, dominated at the Montana App Challenge in Helena by sweeping the top four overall places out of 15 teams.

The statewide challenge was held May 19 at the Montana State Capitol Rotunda. The judges included software engineers from Montana companies and representatives from the state’s economic development office.

Judging criteria included the apps’ technical aspects as well as the competitors’ business plans and presentations of their proposals. The theme focused on solving a problem in the community, according to a press release from Kalispell Girls Who Code.

“The girls chose their problem, did marketing research including talking to users in the community, developed their Apps, created pitch and demonstration videos, and created business plans that detailed all of the aspects of their product development process,” the organization said.

The first-place winner was Kalispell’s Geodes team — Alexandra Houseworth, Taylor Pooton and Lillian Schroeder — who created Grow Your Donations, which helps people donate more efficiently to food banks, particularly the Flathead Food Bank. The app “informs people of what and where to donate, and includes a fun and interactive plant growing game that encouraged people to grow their own plants and donate the produce.”

Homeschool Coders — Isabelle Ashley, Makayla Davenport, Amanda Hutchison and Kyra Hutchison — finished second with their Clothes for Kids, which lets parents request specific clothing for their children at a discount from local thrift stores.

“If the thrift store has the clothing requested, it sends an email back to the parents so they can pick up the clothing at a discounted price,” the group said. “It also has information if a user would like to donate to the store.”

Natural Coders, with Kelsea Bemis, Lillian Lewis and Elise Suda, finished third with their Stop Suicide, an app that screens suicide risk levels and provides information to lead people away from self-harm, including resources for immediate help and information to better understand their emotions.

Coding Kittens, with Miki Flint, Hailey Hendrickson, and Grace Steindorf, finished fourth with their Where’s the Water app, which provides locations of water bottle-refilling stations across the Flathead Valley and lets users add locations, along with information about the stations and facts about plastic bottles’ impact on the environment.

The organization is seeking volunteers, who can contact Marianne Smith at m.smith@troutmoon.com. Girls in interested in participating next year can also contact Smith. Donations are accepted at www.givegab.com/campaigns/KalispellGirlsWhoCode.

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