Seal of Approval wins Rep. Chellie Pingree’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Maine’s First District

Rep. Chellie Pingree has named Victoria Wahlig, a Ninth Grader at Falmouth High School, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Maine’s First District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Seal of Approval, the student said, ”I have been sailing since I was very young, and over the years have noticed more and more trash popping up on beaches and in the ocean. I’ve also watched recreational boaters use practices that are harmful for the environment around them. Sailing is my passion, and I want to share what I love with others. However, the ocean is quickly becoming more and more polluted. I want to have a clean resource to sustain future generations of sailors and boaters, and teach them to respect the environment around them. However, there aren’t many education opportunities to teach the public about how to best respect the delicate ecosystems they are in. More resources are coming out with guides on how to be an eco-friendly boater, but those are pages upon pages of information – not interesting for readers, and certainly not something people would have fun doing. If you are on the water, you’re going to need something quick and easy, and you want to keep things fun and engaging so people are interested in what your app is trying to convey. Also, the guides are a lot of paper waste.

Keeping things digital makes things more simple and more eco-friendly – exactly the goal of this app. I also had experience with coding and wanted to apply my newfound skills to a real-world problem. I wanted to create an easy, fun way to teach boaters about clean boating practices. Sometimes all the rules and regulations, just in a packet or website, can be overwhelming and boring. By keeping things engaging and giving motivation to get to the end goal (the Seal of  Approval), the app teaches you without you realizing you’re being taught. I want to show people that conservation doesn’t have to be hard, boring, or unattainable. Even by taking a quiz, you can change parts of your life and make a lasting impact on the environment.”

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.