Cygnus wins Rep. Kathy Manning’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in North Carolina’s Sixth District

Rep. Kathy Manning has named Ibrahim Shahid, an Eighth Grader at Kernodle Middle School, as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in North Carolina’s Sixth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Cygnus, the student said, ”When I was a young child, I used to think about how the ecosystems on Earth worked. As I progressed to elementary school, I realized that the ecosystems on Earth are complex and can easily be dismantled due to human interaction (i.e. pollution). I then contemplated in my first year of middle school on how the ecosystems on earth are so complex, diverse, and fragile, and what the ecosystems of the celestial objects above us may look like. This brought me to the science of astronomy. I further researched the topic and found out about the different species of celestial bodies in the night sky and how they relate to each other to make an ecosystem. Later, I saved up money to purchase a beginner telescope, I, with my supplemental sky maps, tried to view at least 2 things that night. It was a cool December night, and I pointed my telescope to a funny-looking constellation named Orion. It’s probably the only constellation whose name applies to what it appears to be (looking at your Canis major). I pointed my telescope to where M42 was supposed to be and found myself looking at a mass of purplish-whitish globs in the night sky with a distinct trapezoid of stars in the middle. This was the beginning of my stargazing journey and encouraged me to complete the messier list by the end of the year. I later realized how much research and hard work (that many are unable to do due to time constraints or pure lack of interest) I had to do to accomplish my goal. This left me contemplating how I can make astronomy fun and enjoyable for the rest of the general public. Later on, in Middle School, I learned about computer science and dove into different programming languages, like Python, HTML, CSS, Java, and JavaScript, I later found myself most interested in web development, (HTML, CSS, JS). I later thought about making a website that can help budding astronomers across the state or by a far stretch, the nation with their astronomy goals, I later learned about the Congressional App Challenge and how awesome it is and decided to develop Cygnus, a stargazing app that helps the beginner and amateur astronomer pursue his/her astronomy goals and develop a love for astronomy.”

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.