2nd wins Rep. Brad Sherman’s 2023 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 32nd District

Rep. Sherman has named John Xu of Harvard-Westlake High School and Jerry Zeng of Oaks Christian High School as the winners of the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 32nd District.

When asked what inspired the creation of 2nd, the students said, “This project is a deeply personal journey for us. Jerry and I have a shared family friend who lives in China, his name is Terris. We knew each other’s family well and we visited each other’s homes quite frequently. But in all the times in Terris’ house, something that always caught our attention was Terris’s grandmother. Terris’s grandmother was born blind, but that did not stop her from finding her way in the world, both physically and mentally. Through years of slow and gradual adaptation, she was able to live a joyful life, raising 4 children with Terris’s grandfather. Jerry and I always felt internally impressed and awe-struck by the sheer determination she has to keep striving forward and create for herself a happy existence even though her unfortunate circumstances tried to hold her back. However, it was not until this summer that we talked about our internal feelings with each other. We have grown a lot since our time in China, and by that point, we felt that we needed to do something to help those that are in a similar situation to Terris’s grandmother. Terris’s grandmother was fortunate in the sense that she had great support in the form of a caring husband and their economic status was well, however not all that are visually impaired can enjoy such prospects in life. Arriving at this conclusion, we decided to do some research into what forms of assistance are available to the visually impaired and blind people to see if our worries were superficial. We were in turn met by empty searches and a severe lack of attention paid to this issue. Appalled by the minimal support systems that these groups of people receive, we strove to create a tool that can be of service and support to the people in a similar situation to our dear friend’s grandmother.”

This year’s Challenge saw an unprecedented level of participation, with 374 Members of the House of Representatives hosting competitions, surpassing the previous record of 340. A remarkable 11,334 students from across the United States competed in this year’s Challenge, marking an impressive increase of nearly 1,000 participants compared to the previous record set in 2019. The enthusiasm and creativity these students display is a testament to the growing interest in technology and signal a bright future for American innovation. The surge of ingenuity continued with a whopping 3,645 original applications flooding in, nearly a thousand more than the previous year’s high. This remarkable growth showcases the exceptional talent and innovation within our nation’s youth.

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. This resounding show of bipartisan support emphasizes the critical importance of STEM education in today’s rapidly evolving world. 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 2024 Congressional App Challenge will launch in May of 2024, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.