AISES Recap: App Challenge Inspiring Indigenous Students

On September 21st, 2021, the Congressional App Challenge national team flew to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the 2021 AISES National Conference. The conference served as an educational, professional, and workforce development space for Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in science, technology, engineering, and math studies and careers. It is the largest college and career fair in the U.S. for Indigenous students and professionals.

The first day of the conference, the CAC participated in Boeing Stem Day where we hosted an interactive session with students to get them interested in computer science. In the session we set up a video booth where students could record messages to send to Congress, focusing on why Indigenous students should be supported in STEM. Students then worked collaboratively on Replit using HTML5, CSS, and Javascript programming languages to create a web app to host and deliver their videos directly to Congressional Staff. Our goal was to give students hands-on experience with coding software and bridge the gap between the Indigenous community and Congress.

Below, we have linked one of the videos a group of students recorded from our Boeing Stem Day session. These individuals were excited to have a platform to communicate issues they were concerned about to Congress. They spent time preparing a script, editing their video, and coding their web app. It was great to meet such passionate students!

We also attended the conference’s Career Fair event where we were able to talk to over 100 students and introduce them to the App Challenge. Also in attendance were booths from Amazon, Nasa First Nations Launch, and Mayo Clinic to name a few.

The Congressional App Challenge is committed to supporting communities that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Attending this year’s ASIES conference is just one of the many ways we strive to create a direct pipeline between students and the computer science field. Our goal is to support students and provide them with access to resources and opportunities to tackle the issue of underrepresentation in STEM fields.

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge runs through November 1st, 2021. Middle school and high school students across the 339 participating congressional districts are eligible to register and submit their apps. Students can register on the Congressional App Challenge’s website.