After months of high-level computer programming work, Edwardsville High School senior Jordan Schaeffer has earned national recognition by taking first place in the US Congressional App Challenge for Illinois Congressional District #13.
Every year, U.S. representatives challenge students in their districts “to create and submit their own original apps for a chance to win the Congressional App Challenge,” according to the competition’s website. Each winning app may be put on display at the U.S. Capitol Building for one year.
Schaeffer won for his app called “Peace of Mind”, which he says is more of an experience than a game.
“When you put on the virtual reality headset, you are transported into this world that’s calm and peaceful. You’re sitting by a campfire in the forest on a starry night and can hear the locusts in the background. You can look around and take a step away from everything that may be stressing you out.”
Schaeffer began developing the app in August and finished the product in October.
He says he was really surprised to win.
“I wasn’t even expecting to place. I actually didn’t even know when I’d get the results and then one day I got an email saying I got first place. It was exciting.”
This is the first time Schaeffer has created an app.
“I’ve always been more of hands-on hardware person. I like working with computer electronics and the hardware, but I have found some interest in the software. It can definitely be rewarding when you work with it and can build things.”
This is the fourth time since 2016 that an EHS student has won the nation’s most prestigious prize in student computer science.
“The students can use any software to create their applications,” said EHS Business/Applied Technology teacher Dene Schickedanz. “There are no restrictions on the type of app or the software used to create it. I use the MIT App Inventor cloud based software to teach the students with no coding experience which is a great way to introduce kids of all ages into app creation.”
Schaeffer credits EHS’s success in the app challenge to the business and technology program and its outstanding teachers.
“They encourage you and push you to do your best,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this otherwise.”
Edwardsville High School US Congressional App Challenge History
1st – Ian McAtee & Seth Davey “Interactive Computer Design”
1st – Adam Walters “Pixel Skies”
3rd – Leonardo De La Torre Cruz, Karlye Murray, Jeffrey Cummings “EHS Map”
1st – Connor Sweet & Sam Msengi “Quest for the Golden Head”
No competition due to COVID
1st – Jordan Schaeffer “Peace of Mind”