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Providence Students Win District Coding Contest

January 6, 2020 by Elaine Rottman

Freshman Ruby Kilpper and sophomore Sydney Whited created an app to connect service organizations and volunteers. They were recognized for their creative efforts by Representative Salud Carbajal, who presented them with the Congressional App Challenge award on January 6, 2020 and invited them to a reception at the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

“My office and I looked at all the entries. It was a very competitive pool, but your app rose to the top very quickly. It was innovative, practical, and user-friendly. Concept-wise it is very strong, but the way you approached it, was very well executed,” said Representative Carbajal.

“You two are going to be the next Google, Facebook, or other big-time engineers. You should be very proud.”

Ruby and Sydney, both students in the Providence Engineering Academy, developed the SBVO Santa Barbara Volunteer Opportunities app to allow local non-profits to post details of opportunities to serve, including date, time, place, age, and activity. Users will be able to search these opportunities when they are interested in finding somewhere to serve. 

The inspiration behind the app was Providence’s annual day of service, Philia Day, on which students volunteer around the city.

SBVO (Santa Barbara Volunteer Opportunities) is still in the development and testing stage and is not yet available for download.

Matthew Eves, a teacher in the Providence Engineering Academy, supported and encouraged the girls in their coding work.

It was the first time either girl had worked with Java; said Sydney, “with Mr. Eves’ encouragement and help, we seemed to pick up the language pretty fast. I think the app will be useful. Overall, I am super proud of Ruby and myself for working together to create an interesting and helpful app, and to execute the project well!”

The Congressional App Challenge is an annual student-coding competition created to increase Congressional awareness of computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Members of the House of Representatives host contests 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.

Participating House members each select a winning app from their districts, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app at the United States Capitol during the annual #HouseOfCode festival in the spring. 

In 2019, 10,000 students registered for the competition; 2,177 created and submitted functioning apps; and 304 Members of Congress chose one winner from their district.

Providence congratulates Ruby and Sydney for their significant achievement. Their achievement demonstrates that the Providence Engineering Academy is meeting director Rodney Meadth’s goal that the program “will serve as a springboard for students considering a career in math, science, or engineering disciplines.”

Enrollment in the Providence Engineering Academy is open by application to any student currently enrolled in the high school division of Providence School. Engineering education begins in the middle school division.

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