GardenAid wins Rep. Kim Schrier’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Washington’s Eighth District

Rep. Kim Schrier has named Aakarsh Agrawal of Eastlake High School, Rishi Aniga of International Community School, and Rushil Arun of Eastlake High School as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Washington’s Eighth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of GardenAid, the students said, “GardenAid was inspired by our daily experiences in our community. While walking around in the summer, we observed that most lawns in our neighborhood had sprinklers swiveling back and forth for hours on end. During the day, we would often get sprayed by ineffective sprinklers that spent excessive time watering the sidewalk instead of the lawn. Towards the end of the day, patches of sidewalk would be completely covered in water, and the soil underneath the grass would be damp and slushy. However, due to the easy availability of water in our city, water scarcity never seemed to be a concern for our community. We never looked upon water as a precious natural resource that should be conserved.

This changed in the summer of 2021, when temperatures in the Seattle area shot up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and severe drought started affecting many parts of the state. We realized that the seemingly insignificant problem of water waste was depriving this precious resource from other communities in need. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as much as 50% of water used in watering lawns is wasted due to inefficient irrigation methods that result in overspray, excess runoff, and negligence of areas where watering is actually needed. However, many gardeners, even those with experience, don’t know how else to water their gardens. It can be costly, time-consuming, or arduous to set up a complex irrigation system that preserves water. Furthermore, many new to gardening face an uphill climb in regards to learning how to take care of their garden.

To help alleviate some of these problems, we developed GardenAid giving users control of managing their garden health in a sustainable way through their phone. Our goal is to help users keep their gardens lush with peace of mind while actively reducing water waste in the community. Taking the inspiration to bring the community together, we took GardenAid beyond an irrigation application and provided features for users to identify plants, engage & chat with the community, and monitor their garden’s data.”

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.