Skip to main content

There's a nationwide challenge to create a new app – and get yourself a D.C. shout-out

It's to try to get high school students more involved in coding.

The United States had 561,000 graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates last year.

That's just a hair above what Russia turned out, and literally millions behind both India (2.6 million) and China (4.7 million).

To try to get more U.S. kids thinking creatively about tech, congresspeople from around the country are holding a challenge for high schoolers: code an awesome app.

Three districts in Minnesota are taking part in the competition, called the Congressional App Challenge

All are repped by Republicans: CD2 (Jason Lewis), CD3 (Erik Paulsen) and CD6 (Tom Emmer).

How to take part

Anyone living in those three districts in high school (or younger is fine too) can jump in. You go to the competition website, sign up, and then submit your app once it's completed. (You can do it as an individual or a small team.)

Part of it is uploading a video that explains what your app does, plus answering specific questions about your goals with the app, and problems you ran into trying to code it.

You have from July 26 through Nov. 1 to submit an app. 

Local judges will evaluate them and pick winners, based on how good the idea is, how well it's executed, and the coding and programming skills shown. Winners get some congressional recognition, with their apps displayed in the U.S. Capitol and online.

And they get invited to Capitol Hill as part of the House of Code event, where big tech companies speak (last year execs from Microsoft, Amazon and Spotify took part, Roll Call says.)

Last year's winners from Minnesota

Last year, Paulsen's district was the only one in Minnesota to take part. The winners from CD3 were Maha, Madeeha, and Mia Syed, who created a chatbot app for restaurants. (Watch their submission video here.)

It was a chatbot that integrated with Facebook chat. As a customer, you could go to the restaurant's Facebook page and send them messages to get automated replies – see the menus, get directions and parking info, and make reservations.

"Behind every latest new app or technological breakthrough, there is a team of highly-skilled, creative workers and the one thing they all have in common is an education and background in STEM," Paulsen said in a release about the 2017 challenge, adding he's "excited" to see what students come up with.

The challenge is now in its third year, and was started by a Democrat and Republican. There are now 162 congressional districts taking part, and the website says it's reached nearly 4,000 students so far – 30 percent of which were young women, an underrepresented group in the tech space.

Said Emmer: "Our nation is currently facing a major skills gap crisis, and the technology sector has been hit hard, making this challenge even more important. If our nation is to remain relevant, successful, and globally competitive, we must encourage the generation of tomorrow to take an interest in some of these important fields."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.


Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.


Mill City Museum in the running to be named best history museum in the U.S.

The museum offers scenic views of the Mississippi River.


Man charged with attempted murder of White Bear Lake police officer

Daniel Holmgren Jr., 33, was being served an arrest warrant at the time of the incident.


Gallery: 1,000-acre Wisconsin resort listed for nearly $4.3M

The lush landscape features a creek and private lake.

school bus

Alert after Woodbury students approached by strangers asking if they want candy

Valley Crossing Elementary School urged parents to go over safety information with their children in response to the incident.

basketball unsplash stock

North St. Paul basketball cancels Eden Prairie game after opposing coach's reinstatement

Head Coach Cornelius Gilleylen said he let his players decide amongst themselves.


New proposal: Internet companies should pay you if they use or sell your data

It's your data that's valuable – should you get compensated for it?

Big internet names: We like net neutrality protections, don't get rid of them

Google, Netflix, Amazon, Uber, Snapchat, Reddit – and more – are some of the companies publicly talking about the rules.

5 Minnesota reps support effort in U.S. House to restore net neutrality

Some members of the U.S. House are trying to undo the FCC's open internet rollback.

Airline execs get called to D.C. to talk about their bad customer service

Minnesota Reps. Jason Lewis and Rick Nolan got to ask some of the questions.

Google rolled out a streamlined new way to donate to nonprofits and causes

But there are a few things you should keep in mind before trying it.

From the vodka and gelato business, to challenging Rep. Paulsen in 2018

He was CEO of Phillips Distilling, and helped build the Talenti gelato company.

Target's Cartwheel now lives within the regular Target app

Target has officially merged the two apps – here's why.