Blossom wins Rep. James “Jim” Himes’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Connecticut’s Fourth District

Rep. James “Jim” Himes has named Victoria Caruso and Amanda Smith from Darien High School as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Connecticut’s Fourth District.


When asked what inspired the creation of Blossom, the students said, “People often focus on their weight and how their body looks instead of having healthy habits and physical ability. While struggling with one’s body image is certainly nonspecific to one group of people, I feel it is especially true for teenage girls. Undereating by choice or not caring enough to eat more, drinking minimal amounts of water, and sleeping unsubstantial amounts of time are not atypical and, to an extent, have been normalized. Over this past summer, I decided to take on healthy habits, such as sleeping more, running and lifting weights, and drinking more water. Since I was focused on building healthy habits and physical ability, such as how far and fast I could run, I was less critical of my body image and was encouraged by how great I felt each day. I wanted to create an app that allows users to step away from tracking their calories intake and their weight and instead track their progress towards their health goals. Because seeing visual progress is a huge motivational factor for people taking on healthy habits and not seeing visual progress can be discouraging, I also wanted the app to allow users to visually see their progress. Having a flower grow each day allows users to see their daily progress, and the “journey garden” allows users to acknowledge the time and effort they have put towards building healthy habits. Seeing this proof of their progress hopefully encourages users to continue practicing those habits and living healthier.”

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.