Learn2Code wins Rep. Elaine Luria’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s Second District

Rep. Elaine Luria has named Luke Baja-Ricketts, a 12th Grader at First Colonial, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s Second District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Learn2Code, the student said, ”I first learned to program in my 7th grade keyboarding through a Microsoft website called TouchDevelop. It provided step by step guides to programming games, in a language very similar to JavaScript if I remember correctly. Because I was told exactly what to do, I was able to create games easily while understanding how they worked, and that inspired me to start writing my own programs in their editor. Unfortunately, Microsoft replaced this website with a block programming website, and block coding, although useful for learning how basic programming logic works, is not effective at teaching real world languages in my opinion. The main problem is the fact that learners have no reason to switch to other languages after learning to block code. This was a problem with TouchDevelop as well, because they provided many libraries and shortcuts that would not be found in real code. The long term benefits of learning an actual language are traded for the short term benefits of simplicity. Learn2Code attempts to solve this problem by starting the user with real world HTML, JavaScript and CSS and telling them exactly what to write, in order to keep things simple. Gradually, they will begin to understand what they are writing and become inspired to write code themselves, or that is the intention at least.”

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.