We have real tech talent in central Arkansas, and every fall, I get to highlight that through the Congressional App Challenge. The App Challenge is a competition for students grade eight through twelve, and each year I get to host it right here in central Arkansas. Applications are now open and close on November 1, 2021, and winners will be announced in December.

The App Challenge allows central Arkansas students to design and code their own app and take advantage of up to 15 hours of educational resources provided by UpBrainery. Code Ninjas, located in Bentonville, is also a partner of the App Challenge and is available as a resource for students participating in the competition. Nearly half of App Challenge participants describe themselves as beginners, so I encourage all students with an interest in computer science and coding to participate – regardless of prior experience.

I am proud of our Central Arkansas students’ creativity. The 2020 winner, Noah Taylor from Conway High School, submitted an app called “Reaffirming Reminders,” which allows users to set up notifications that include an inspirational quote about love, hope, or wisdom. The past winners have included apps for reducing distractions while driving, assisting fire departments in locating fire hydrants and the fastest route to get there, and an app to help prevent hot-car deaths.

If students have an idea but haven’t completed the app, that’s okay. Students don’t need to submit an app that is 100 percent complete, or even fully working – they just need to have an interest in coding and app development – and be open to connecting to the tech industry. The App Challenge also provides opportunities for continuing education even after the competition has wrapped up.

The competition has already begun! The deadline to register and submit an app online is Nov. 1, 2021. To register, please visit www.congressionalappchallenge.us/ where further information is available.

To enter, students must be enrolled in grade eight through twelve. Students may work individually or in teams of up to four. Students may compete in the district they reside in, or the district they attend school in if separate, but not both. For teams, at least half of its members must be eligible to compete in the district in which they are participating in.

Again, the deadline is Nov. 1, 2021, and winner will be announced in early December. I invite interested students, parents, and teachers to contact my office at (501) 324-5941 with any questions they may have.

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