Enduring Cavern: Exponential wins Rep. Jared Huffman’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in California’s Second District

Rep. Jared Huffman has named Derek Zhou from Casa Grande High School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in California’s Second District.


When asked what inspired the creation of Enduring Cavern: Exponential, the student said, “I was inspired by my own experience with education games, where they consistently failed to captivate me. When analyzing these games, I determined these games tried to tread the line between math and game, yet it always fell to one side or the other, creating a game too boring in its math or a game with too little math. Hence, I thought of a new solution: immersion. If a game created a lively world and an intriguing user experience, the player could find themselves genuinely interested in an educational game. Where other math education games may be satisfactory in a classroom, there’s no doubt that, when given other games, the student would choose those. This can be seen in the game ‘Prodigy’, where it is extremely based upon a common game genre (the RPG) where the only real math integration is random pop-up math questions. With this system, if this player had the option to play another RPG, they’d naturally choose the one without those troublesome math problems. But if the world of the game creates interest and the gameplay actively involves learning (even if its math), it can create unique player engagement that could even draw interest from other games.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.