Local Code Girls' social app a semifinalist in national challenge

·2 min read

Jun. 11—Sit With Us, a mobile app developed by 11-year-old Josephine Morrison of Bigfork and 10-year-old Juliet Skinner of Kalispell to combat bullying and loneliness at the lunch table, has made it to the semifinals in the junior division of the Technovation Girls international coding challenge.

For the competition, girls are tasked with identifying and solving real-world problems in their communities through technology, according to technovation.org.

Morrison and Skinner, members of Code Girls United, know students may experience emotions of fear, bullying and loneliness when going to a new school, or trying a new activity, and not knowing anyone. Inspired to turn potentially negative situations into positive ones, the app helps introduce people to each other in social settings by matching them up at a location such as a cafeteria and providing them with topics to start a conversation, according to a press release.

The app works by identifying a user's location and allows them to request a seat. The user is asked a series of questions about general topics and the answers are compared to the responses of a group with the same questions. When there is a match, users' phones identify each other through Bluetooth technology. Users can then meet up and use their responses to start a conversation.

A pitch video for the Sit With Us app may be viewed at https://bit.ly/3psumN4 and a demonstration video at https://bit.ly/3corrjg.

The app is up against roughly 20,000 worldwide participants and 1,000 teams competing in the junior division of the International Technovation Challenge. Judges will select 12 finalist teams to pitch their app live during the Technovation World Summit scheduled for Aug. 12-13. The summit will be held virtually this year.

Kalispell-based Code Girls United is an after-school program that teaches coding and business skills to fourth- through eighth-grade girls throughout Northwest Montana. Through the program, members build apps using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology App Inventor, which they can enter in regional, state and international competitions for a chance at winning scholarships.

This year, the program was awarded a multi-year $112,000 grant through the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to support its efforts.

For more information about Code Girls United program contact Marianne Smith at m.smith@codegirlsunited.org or visit www.codegirlsunited.org.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com