Congressional App Challenge
The annual Congressional App Challenge (CAC), previously known as the Congressional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academic Competition, for high school students in the 14th Congressional District has launched and U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) will be accepting submissions through November 2, 2016.
The competition is designed to engage students’ creativity and encourage their participation in STEM education fields, allowing students to compete by creating and exhibiting their software application, or “app,” for mobile, tablet or computer devices on a platform of their choice.
Rep. Hultgren is co-chair of the STEM Education Caucus in the U.S. House and recently launched the STEM Scholars program to encourage high school students to become ambassadors for the possibilities provided by STEM education in their communities.
- The “Competition Submission Period” will be closed at 12:00 PM (noon) Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) NOVEMBER 2, 2016.
- After the Submission Period has ended, the Submission cannot be modified in any way before the completion of judging.
- The Judging Period will last from NOVEMBER 2, 2016 through DECEMBER 2, 2016.
- Winners will be announced in early DECEMBER 2016.
Age. There is no age minimum, but students are allowed to participate up to their high school graduation.
Location. Students are only allowed to compete in Congressional districts that are participating. To find out if you live in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, look up your 9-digit zip code by entering your address, here. Using your 9-digit zip code, look up your Member of Congress here.
Teams. Students are allowed to participate as individuals, or as teams of up to four. If you are participating as part of team:
- At least two of your teammates must be eligible to participate in the district in which you wish to compete.
Old Projects. If you created an app for a separate project or program, you are welcome to submit that app, as long as it was created within the last calendar year, and fulfills the rest of the requirements.
Register and Submission ID Number
Once you’ve checked that you are eligible, you must register to participate. Within 3 business days of registering, you will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with your/your team’s Submission ID Number. You must save the Submission ID Number. You will need it to submit your app. The number will look something like this: AB123-01. The registration process should take about 10 minutes, depending on whether you’re participating as an individual or as a team.
To register, you’ll need:
- Your home’s 9-digit zip code
- Your school’s 9-digit zip code
- The name of your Member of Congress, your state, and the district number
- (Teams: You will need this information for all teammates.)
If you have all of that, you’re ready to register: REGISTER HERE
You can create any type of app you like, on any platform you like. In the past, we’ve seen students submit mobile apps web apps, study tools, games, journal apps, and more.
To get you started, here are some resources you can check out. You can also look for help through various organizations that focus on teaching teen coding. Check out some of the Congressional App Challenge’s partners, and see if there are any in your neighborhood who might be able to help you out.
You can also check out advice from the #TechTeens, other teenagers who have learned how to code and have shared their experiences.
- All submissions must be in English.
- An individual may appear on only one entry, either alone or as part of a team.
- Submissions must not be indecent, defamatory, in obvious bad taste, demonstrate a lack of respect for public morals or conduct or adversely affect the reputation of congressional districts.
Also, submissions must:
- Be original;
- Have been created within one calendar year of the closing of the Submission Period, i.e. since NOVEMBER 2, 2015; and
- Be solely owned by Contestant such that no other party has any rights or interest, whether known or unknown.
Submitting Your App
Once your app is ready to go, you have to create your submission. A complete submission includes:
Demonstration Video (1-3 min)
- Your video should be no more than 3 minutes, and should do the following:
- Explain the purpose of your app.
- Explain who your intended audience is.
- Mention what tools and languages you used to create your app.
- Show how your app would be used.
- Once you’ve created your video, upload it to youtube, vimeo, or any other video-hosting site. Make sure the video is set to public. If it’s not set to public, the judges won’t be able to see it.
- Note: videos that go over 3 minutes won’t be disqualified, but the judges may penalize you at their own discretion.
You will also need to answer the following questions before you submit your app:
- Short Description: What is your app trying to accomplish and why? (350 characters max.)
- What’s a difficulty you faced in programming your app and how did you overcome it? (1500 characters max.)
- What improvements would make if you were going to create a version 2.0 of your app? (750 characters max.)
Before you submit your app, you should do a final review of the Submission Checklist. This is just to ensure that you’re all ready to go.
The Congressional App Challenge is open to high school students, regardless of experience with coding. We highly encourage students to participate even if they’ve never coded before; the point is to learn something new.
Recognizing that students learn in different ways and benefit from different tools, we’ve included several different educational resources. Remember that if one of them doesn’t work for you, there are many alternatives. Don’t get discouraged – just try another one!
The following resources are available to students to help them in their coding pursuits:
- The MIT App Inventor Webinar (Recorded Live on Monday, April 7, 2014)
- App Inventor — Beginner Video Tutorials (MIT)
- Samsung Mobile App Academy Resources
- CodeAcademy.com – self-taught courses in HTML/CSS, Python, Ruby, and PHP
- Scratch - a simple visual programming language
- Alice - used to create 3D animations
Winning the Competition
Apps are judged by a local panel of industry experts who will rate the apps based on the three following criteria:
- QUALITY of the idea, including creativity and originality;
- IMPLEMENTATION of the idea, including user experience and design; and
- DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE of coding and programming skills.
The Judging Period will last from NOVEMBER 2, 2016 through DECEMBER 2, 2016. Winners will be announced in early DECEMBER 2016.
For more information, please visit the official Congressional App Challenge website at CongressionalAppChallenge.us or call Rep. Hultgren’s Washington, D.C. office at (202)225-2976.