Rep. Sara Jacobs has named Aaron Li of Francis Parker School, Joey Wang of Francis Parker School, Jiayu Fan of Plano West Senior High School, and Ambrose Luo of Troy High School as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 53rd District.
When asked what inspired the creation of RecyLink, the students said, ”Global warming has become a more and more serious issue in our world. There are 481 BILLION plastic bottles used worldwide each year and only 9% were recycled because the current recycling programs are NOT working efficiently. In fact, California’s government recently announced that 600 million dollars in refunds are still waiting to be claimed, and they plan to double the refund rate to increase incentives. Many states are facing the same problems. There are thousands of recycling centers throughout the USA but not many people go there for recycling due to inconvenience and the increasing cost of transportation. In the meantime, the students want to participate in recycling but do not know how. The schools also lack funding to run educational and extracurricular activities including recycling programs. However, we believe the problems will not be solved by raising the government refund alone.
After observing the daily lives around us, we found that the root cause of the low recycling efficiency issue is due to three main pain points. Firstly, the re-counting issue. Laborers are always needed to pour out all the bottles collected to recount them before delivering them over to the recycling centers, which makes the whole process very time-consuming, labor-intensive, and unappealing. Secondly, lack of an integrated information system to record and track all bottles recycled by each student in real time. The students’ contributions could not be recorded accurately, thus the positive incentives could not be awarded accordingly to encourage the students to do more recycling activities. Thirdly, the silo communication network among the stakeholders, namely, the students, schools, and recycling centers, generates long lead time between activities during the process of recycling.
After analyzing the problems and issues, we believe that a user scenario innovation, with the help of AI technology, will make a difference. So, we designed an app called “RecyLink”, to link the real-world recycling activities with the virtual digital data ocean, to link the people from different locations and among different roles, and to link historical data to the future trends.”
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.