Tortle wins Rep. Ami Bera’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s Seventh District

Rep. Ami Bera has named Priya Patel, Akansha Jain, Naysa Bhargava, and Divya Madgula, a team of 12th Graders at Vista del Lago High School, as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s Seventh District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Tortle, the student said, ”Taking from the famous tale, “the tortoise and the hare,” we were inspired by the lesson, “slow and steady wins the race.’ As current seniors in high school, we’ve understood the ups and downs and pressure of growing up and facing more strenuous courses and decisions for the future. Furthermore, with many of our peers voicing their mental health concerns and engaging in mental health advocacy, we could see that this is a very prevalent issue among all ages, especially teenagers. The mission of our app centers around how it is acceptable to take time and prioritize well being when feeling stressed. Sometimes, taking care of mental and physical well being sets you up with a clear mind to pursue other important tasks that could be causing stress. In addition, with the hustle culture that many young people believe in, we wanted to emphasize that it is okay for progress to take time, highlighted through many features of our app, including the mood tracker.
As technology is growing fast as a solution for convenience in various fields, we combined the topic of mental health with technology and app development. The app promotes a self-care quiz to suggest solutions for stress and negative emotions. Additionally, we have included a journal as an outlet for mental health support. As a team, we’ve made sure to create appropriate tones, color, and easy navigation to create an appealing and calming user interface. At the same time, we wanted to ensure that our app was accessible to everyone, and part of that process included making sure that the color schemes, hues, and saturation would be visible and differentiable for individuals with color blindness. All elements of the app essentially point to the idea that taking time for yourself is important and that it is okay to do, and that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to get help if they need it.”

The Congressional App Challenge smashed previous participation records in 2022. All told, 9,011 students registered for this year’s competition – creating 2,707 fully-functioning apps for 335 Members of Congress across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition set the record for most student registrations, most apps submitted, most apps per district submitted, and most districts receiving over 20 apps. The wildly successful competition continues to impress upon House Members the importance of computer science education and the need to develop a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent. 

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, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2023 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2023, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.