For the third year in a row, Carrollton High School coding students have programmed their way to the top in the U.S. Congressional App Challenge, an initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage middle and high school students to learn to code and consider pursuing careers in computer science.
This year, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson chose CHS seniors Kayla McGuinn, Savannah Richie and Betsy Tuggle as the 2020 winners, the third consecutive year CHS students were chosen to represent Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.
More than 6,500 students nationally registered for the 2020 challenge. These students created and submitted 3,088 functioning apps, marking the end of an extremely successful contest despite the COVID-19 pandemic. All told, 308 members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 49 states, Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands, and Washington, DC.
Kayla, Savannah and Betsy, all Trojan band students, wanted to take their musical knowledge to a new level by building a practical app to better train their ear musically using intervals. In their application, they noted the creation of “Note Mine” was simple. “As musicians, we wanted to improve our skills with intervals, but the best apps involving them have to be paid for. Because of this, we decided to create a free-to-use interval app that will help train your ear musically.”
Last year, Kayla, along with Jennifer Sanchez, also won the congressional challenge with another music-focused app called “Piano Sights,” created to help musicians improve their sight reading skills for the piano.
In 2018, senior Montana Freeman and junior Michael Mendez created an app called CHS Exam Hub, a tool designed to help high school students study for college entrance exams with a focus on vocabulary. The duo created both iOS and Android versions of the app.
The CAC is an initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host competitions 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. The Internet Education Foundation provides the CAC with supplemental support. In the six years of the Congressional App Challenge, thousands of functional apps have been created by more than 30,000 students, and participant demographics surpass all industry diversity metrics.
Students who win the challenge are awarded prizes for their work, including an opportunity to attend a reception in Washington, D.C. Last year’s event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kayla, who missed her opportunity last year, and Savannah and Betsy are hopeful they will be able to go this year.
“Winning the Congressional App Challenge three years in a row has given me a chance to reflect on our progress in Computer Science at CHS,” said Robby Blakemore, Computer Science teacher. “Early on, our students required coaching and confidence-building, but this year’s group reported to school with a finished app ready to submit. Winning is great, but seeing students solve problems with confidence is what makes me proud.”