STEMHers wins Rep. Val Demings’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 10th District

Rep. Val Demings has named Neha Patil from Lake Highland Preparatory School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 10th District.


When asked what inspired the creation of STEMHers, the student said, “About two years ago, I taught myself how to code and create apps. Being alone in the learning process and as a woman trying to navigate the field of computer science, learning to code, and finding the inspiration to persist was difficult. Finding female mentors to guide me when I was stuck was a great challenge. Late last year, I created a coding club at my school called Girls ReCode in hopes of creating a community of women in STEM and Computer Science at my high school. Many girls took interest in it, being in the same boat as I was, trying to navigate STEM in the first place. We started by teaching each other the basics of programming and grew into a supportive and loving community. Soon, we expanded into an organization and taught girls in grades 4-9 to code nationwide. We have reached over 60 girls and have over 40 female volunteers, instructors, and mentors. After creating my own organization, I realized the importance of finding and creating a community of girls so everyone can find peers and a safe space for them in STEM. I realized that not everyone had access to resources, instructors, and mentors, and there needed to be a better accessible method to assist any girl in STEM. This drove me to create my app, STEMHers, as it is accessible for all girls and/or non-binary folks who want to navigate in STEM.”

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.