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In ‘Guppy Tank,’ students immerse themselves in app making

Facebook intern Willy Unterkoefler worked with Jomairy Pena of Boston during Building Impact’s Guppy Tank, hosted Tuesday by Facebook in Cambridge. As part of the enrichment program, their team designed Common, a prototype app that would match diverse high school students with shared interests.
Facebook intern Willy Unterkoefler worked with Jomairy Pena of Boston during Building Impact’s Guppy Tank, hosted Tuesday by Facebook in Cambridge. As part of the enrichment program, their team designed Common, a prototype app that would match diverse high school students with shared interests.(Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)

Local students dove into the “Guppy Tank” at Facebook’s Cambridge office Tuesday, but the guppies were a bit older this time.

The Guppy Tank aims to be a middle-school version of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but this time 35 rising high school freshmen attending Phillips Brooks House Association summer camp worked with Facebook interns to prototype and build mobile apps.

“It’s a critical moment in time for them to think about their own educational and career trajectory,” said Bridget Akinc, chief executive of local nonprofit Building Impact, who organized the event.

Teams created apps such as “Ball Up,” which helps lonesome basketball players find nearby folks to play with. In the past year, Guppy Tank events have connected 500 students with employees at 25 technology companies across the city including Toast, Salsify, and HubSpot.

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Launched in 2016, the program aims to give students a chance to envision themselves working in tech.


Allison Hagan can be reached at allison.hagan@globe.com.