Leap Toward Safety wins Rep. Kurt Schrader’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Oregon’s Fifth District

Rep. Kurt Schrader has named Jiaming Zhang and Jesse He of Lake Oswego High School as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Oregon’s Fifth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Leap Toward Safety, the student said, ”The Cascadia Subduction zone is a fault line that stretches all the way from Northern Vancouver to California. While learning about earthquakes and noticing that there will be a big one coming in Oregon, California and Washington within the next 30 years, we began to get involved with advocating for natural disaster preparedness. After more research and having interviews with elementary school students, we observed that there was a recurring pattern in their insufficiency of knowledge of their working understanding in the field of natural disaster and earthquake preparedness. From this observation, we anticipate that unforeseen earthquakes will be detrimental to their future survival. While conducting the many interviews with our esteemed colleagues, the largest percentage of students dolefully answered that they “know nothing about natural disasters” and they “want[ed] to learn more about it”. From our personal experience, one of the most efficient and fun ways to learn about a boring but life-saving subject is through boisterous interactive activities with instant gratification. Thus, we created one of the most well-known games, Mario, from our childhood but with a unique twist to help students understand the facts behind natural disasters. We feel that the schools are focusing on more standard teaching such as math, English, and history rather than preparedness studies. While the Cascadia earthquake is much overdue and looms forebodingly in the foggy future, the students today do not have a sufficient understanding and they are the ones that will be most impacted by this disastrous event. As said by John F. Kennedy, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”. Hence, with this inspirational and reinvigorating problem, we got inspired to build an app for the lives of future generations, but also in the hope to help the world through this difficult time.”

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.