NIHF STEM wins 2020 Congressional App Challenge
Posted on 12/09/2020
Congratulations to NIHF STEM High School for winning the 2020 Congressional App Challenge sponsored by Congressman Tim Ryan, District 13.  This is the third time in four years that NIHF STEM High School in the Akron Public Schools district has earned this prestigious award from Congressman Tim Ryan’s District 13 office.

The winning coding team consisted of three STEM High School students, Lucas Hacker (10th grade), Cameron Neuman (11th grade), and Jared Phavixay (11th grade).  The learners are part of an AP computer science class and supported by their learning coach Sam Appleby.  The distribution of the extension to the building learners and staff is the next step and is supported by the technology specialist, Jeff Caranna.

The challenge to the trio of  learners was to design an app of any topic using a programming language in which they are proficient.  The team used JAVAScript to make the extension and utilized Visual Studio Code’s Live mode to work collaboratively through remote learning. 

The app could be used on any of the district issued laptops and Google Chrome browser.  As the district transitioned to remote learning, these learners thought it would be important to create a central location where students could access all of the commonly used websites by their learning coaches.  Having a central location should eliminate some of the confusion for students to navigate from site to site and class to class.  When clicked, the app brings up a list of all the learning coaches in the building.  Once the teacher is clicked, a list of commonly used websites for that teacher pops up and the learners can click on any of those links.  This concept was conceived several years ago, but had become largely unusable to the learners in the building.  The group revitalized the project with new links, new teachers, easier to use features, fresh graphics, and updated it to the needs of the remote learning environment. 

These young coders revitalized, designed, and coded an app based on the need for a functional building-based Chrome Extension.  The app was named “STEM Hub” and it organized important and frequently used links for faculty that allowed for an access point that is readily available.

Innovation is defined as making changes in something that is established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products.  This is foundational to our STEM ideology.  These three learners recognized a broken existing extension that was not functional and this became the focus for their work.  They brought this extension back to life with updated codes and current technologies that upgraded links, visual appearance, and accessibility to fit today’s Google Chrome platform.  The video they submitted to the competition can be found HERE.

As a follow up, the three learners will be attending a virtual event this Wednesday, December 9th at 10 am with Congressman Tim Ryan’s office where they will showcase their app and have the opportunity to speak with the congressman and media.

Winning apps are eligible to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building and are featured on the U.S. House of Representatives website,  Winning students are invited to the #HouseofCode Capitol Hill Reception in Washington D.C. Each will receive additional sponsor prizes, as well. 

STEM Congressional App Winners
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