LunaSim wins Rep. David Trone’s 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Maryland’s Sixth District

Rep. Trone has named Karthik Vedula, Sienna Simms, and Aditya Patil of Poolesville High School as the winners of the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Maryland’s Sixth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of LunaSim, the students said, “As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention!  Ninth graders in Poolesville High School had been using commercial software that cost thousands of dollars in order to learn about simulation and modeling.  In the past year, due to IT problems, that software stopped working on our school machines, which completely upended the ninth grade Computer Science curriculum. 

Being frustrated by the fact that our school was paying thousands of dollars for software that didn’t even work on our computers anymore, my team took the initiative to do something about this.  Open-accessibility being our motto, we envisioned a fully open-source and web-based app that would be freely accessed by any computer (chromebook, laptop, desktop, tablet, and more!) for us students to use.  While knowing that the chances of three high school students being able to replace an industry-standard product would be slim, we still dared to take on this challenge and build this app.

Under the guidance of our two Computer Science teachers, who provided us with support on how to follow best software-engineering practices, and over many demanding months in which we learned a lot along the way, we launched LunaSim to our 9th graders this year.  Seeing over 60 students use our app on a daily basis to satisfy their curiosities about their world around them makes us truly proud.  We hope that LunaSim inspires others to take on such challenges and build apps to help those around them.”

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