(TNS) -- Saddened by the lack of access to jobs, education and health care in other countries, five grade school girls developed Super World, a mobile app that connects people with problems to those who can help them.
Sofia Martinez, 9, of East Palo Alto, and her classmates at Heather Elementary School, will present their app on May 13 as part of the worldwide Technovation Challenge.
The annual event is a technology entrepreneurship competition for girls ages 10 to 18. There are more than 13,000 participants from 100 countries, including about 1,000 girls from the Bay Area.
Tara Chklovski, who is mentoring the team, said the second and third grade students knew they did not meet the age requirements to participate, but decided to work on the app anyway.
Chklovski said the girls will pitch the idea, but won’t be part of the competition pool.
“They are so excited and so inspired that their ideas matter,” Chklovski said. “They’re learning that their hard work doesn’t always have to be for an external reward. The joys of learning and making a difference is very fulfilling.”
Sofia and her teammates — San Carlos residents Katrina Huang, Kalissa Huang, Mia Chklovski and Maya Kacholiya — met twice a week, every week since January to first decide on what universal problem they wanted to tackle and then to figure out a solution.
The team decided their project would help further the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which are centered on peace, poverty, equity, education, environment and health, among other issues.
The students hope their free app will help people learn more about the struggles and living conditions of others outside the United States and encourage people to help.
To use this app, anyone with a problem related to the UN goals can write or take a picture of their problem and share their location.
Anyone who wants to help solve a problem can search by problem type or location.
The team especially hopes the app will encourage Silicon Valley tech workers to see how they can apply their skills to problems all over the world.
“The girls came up with this, which is so, so inspiring,” said Chklovski, who is Mia’s mom.
The girls wrote to Google co-founder Larry Page: “Do you love it when you have a hard problem you don’t know how to solve? I bet you do! Super World is a great app to find tons and tons of very hard problems that you can solve.”
Chklovski likened the girls’ experience to a “start-up 101 boot camp” of sorts in which they learned how to come up with an idea, use design thinking and create an app through MIT’s App Inventor. They also decided Super World would be a nonprofit and created fundraising and marketing plans.
In a video promoting their app, Sofia says that those who help others won’t be left with nothing.
“You won’t get richer, you won’t be on TV, but you will see happiness,” she said. “You’ll feel loved and get what money can never buy: You will find a meaningful life by helping others.”
©2017 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.