Dozens of teens from schools across the country descended on Capitol Hill last week to take part in the annual Congressional App Challenge.
The annual competition is part of government effort to encourage kids to learn to code and explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers.
As part of the program, students create original apps and compete among other students in their various congressional districts. This year’s contest included some 650 app submissions from more than 2000 students in 33 states.
“The apps these students created reflect the creativity, imagination, and talent tomorrow’s STEM workforce is capable of when given opportunity and encouragement,” said a statement from CAC organizers.
The winning app from each congressional district was displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington.
Among the top winners was Sneha Malineni, a high school student from Portland, Oregon.
Malineni’s app, Forget Me Not, is geared to people suffering from Alzheimer’s, providing them with labeled pictures and memory games featuring the people, places and things most important to their lives.
Another app that made the finals was designed by 16-year old Zach Burke, from Chicago, Illinois.
The Organized College Planner is designed to help students keep track of their college applications, specifically info such as deadlines and requirements needed for each school. It also allows them to compare each school based on a variety of criteria.
The app has been sponsored by several top universities including Illinois State University.
Organizers of the CAC say coding skills are crucial for America’s economic future and that this program is taking steps to address the gap in qualified labor. “Right now, there are over a half million unfilled computer jobs in the U.S.,” organizers say in a statement. “Even with average salaries of more than $100,000 per year, the number of roles requiring coding skills is growing much faster than the number of students learning them.”