StemStart wins Rep. John Carter’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Texas’s 31st District

Rep. John Carter has named Harini Majety from Meridian World School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Texas’s 31st District.

When asked what inspired the creation of StemStart, the student said, “As a girl aspiring for a career in STEM, I found difficulty in finding resources and opportunities to get involved in STEM activities and it would frequently turn into long hours of researching to find any. From this predicament, the idea arose to create an app that would address these needs and help other girls aspiring to go into STEM fields not go through as much trouble as I did. Consequently, I began to research and discuss with various Computer Science teachers and mentors of mine on what opportunities to include within the app and got many great recommendations, many of which are present in the app now. Initially the app started out as that: a compilation of different resources, but as I was running a STEM Camp within my school for primary and middle schoolers, I found that many of them had a lack of understanding of what STEM itself was. That inspired me to further my app in its creation, adding descriptions of what each STEM field entails and examples of jobs within the field to better spark interest from younger groups of children. I tested out this app at many of the camps that I hosted and it was a success with many of the students who attended the camp. From getting some first hand feedback from the kids and their love for the app, I decided to add one more facet to it: the Notes section. Many younger kids stated other opportunities that they found, apart from the ones I already provided, so I thus added the Notes feature in which users can add in opportunities they found, goals, things they completed, or anything in pertinence to STEM. This proved to be extremely useful as it allowed further addition to the opportunities listed in the app. My focus when creating this app was to mainly gear it towards a younger audience, hence  I made the interface fairly simple to maneuver, making the pages easily accessible and the user interface understandable and not clouded with too many buttons, movements, or other aspects. In all the user appraisal tests that I ran, this was a main factor that many younger kids liked as it provided an uncomplicated means for them to understand what STEM is, and make their way into the STEM field themselves which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish with this app.”

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.