HSSD Teams Place 4th in Congressional Challenge

HSSD Teams Place 4th in Congressional Challenge
Posted on 11/11/2018
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Two apps submitted by teams from the Hot Springs World Class High School EAST program tied for fourth place among the top 5 rankings in Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District by Congressman Bruce Westerman, at the Congressional App Challenge Reception and Award Ceremony on Friday.  The Congressional App Challenge is the most prestigious prize in student computer science, and was approved by Congress in 2015 to engage nationwide student creativity and encourage participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education fields. HSSD apps and teams that tied for 4th place are: The ELTE App, created by a team comprised of Madeline (Maddie) Scott, Michael Rivera, and Ella Pace; and the Child Check App, created by a team comprised of Bianca Martin, Bonnie Shannon, and Shawn Wilson. These two apps tied for 4th place among 60 eligible entries in this district.  

As a nationwide competition, the The Congressional App Challenge allows high school students from across the country to compete against peers by creating/exhibiting software applications or “apps” for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on platforms of their choice. The Congressional App Challenge is sponsored by the Internet Education Foundation, which assists offices in hosting challenges in respective districts. Arkansas is a fortunate state, as all four Arkansas Congressional Districts participate.  Entries are accepted each year between June 4 - October 15. Students compete first at the district level. Winners from each state are invited to the #HouseofCode Reception in Washington, D.C., where they demo their apps to Representatives in a national science fair setting. State winners are also displayed in the US Capitol Building, featured on the House of Representatives website and receive free Amazon Web Services credits. See the complete list of past winners, here.

“These students make me  and this entire district so proud! We have some of the greatest EAST kids in the nation, and they have just proven it again. This is the second time for entries from our teams and apps to make it to the Top 5 at the District Level.The kids have worked hard, and they continue to amaze me,” says Hot Springs World Class High School EAST Facilitator John Stokes.

Learn more about the ELTE App and the Child Check App ...


The purpose of the ELTE (English Language Translation Engine) App is to allow universal communication between individuals, including those who are visually impaired or blind with those who are nonverbal or deaf. Through a coding platform, the app allows for messages from any device to be translated quickly to Morse Code or American Sign Language based on the user preferences and needs.The app is targeted for blind to deaf communication and deaf to blind communication for individuals with either type of needs.  For blind to deaf communication, the app translates a message spoken by a blind person into a message communicated via American Sign Language on a video screen for the deaf person. ELTE then translates a message signed in front of a screen or typed into a device by a deaf person into Morse Code for a deaf or person. This app is a versatile tool that removes communication barriers from these groups that may not have another option to connect. In all, this app took two years to code and build.

“Writing code is like learning a different language. This app is extremely complicated because we had to learn multiple codes, and use multiple platforms, to create an avenue for actual dialogue instead of one-way communication. No centralized platform currently exists that bridges the gap between blind and deaf individuals with such specific communications barriers. The app changes that,” explains Ella Pace.

“Eventually, we would like to see this used to bring communication for those with blind or deaf barriers into the 21st century. There is no reason that they can’t enjoy the same communication opportunities that all of us have, when we have technology like this to create a pathway. ELTE provides a universal platform for all people to relate to one another,” says Maddie Scott.

Learn more about ELTE via the app submission video, here.

Child Check App

The purpose of the Child Check App is to guarantee that parents receive notification if their child is left in a vehicle without another person. Through Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) this app connects through a preferred mobile device of the user to send a notification if a reader device in the car detects that a child is alone. The app is set up to work with a chip and a reader that are installed in a car. The chip (encased in a tag just like the chip on a credit card) could be installed anywhere on a child’s car seat. The reader could be installed anywhere in a vehicle. Once a car stops, the reader is programmed to make sure that both a child and driver or passenger are together at all times. If the reader senses that a child is left alone, it sends an alert to the device connected through the app. The reader is also programmed to tell whether a child stops breathing, or if his/her temperature begins to change. The reader and the chip are extremely small, and create minimal installation and cost for the users. This technology could prevent all child injuries and deaths related to being left alone in vehicles.

“I want people to have this tool so that we stop this from happening to children. It’s something that is easily preventable with this technology, because we can program the sensors to look for things that we as humans may forget about or not know is happening. It’s a great option to improve safety, and it can work in a way that is accessible and affordable to everyone,” says Bianca Martin.

Beyond car seat/child safety, the technology could also be used as a general tracking system for children and adults with special needs. EAST students are exploring how to make the chips attach to lanyards that could help to track those that may be prone to getting lost or wondering away.

Learn more about Child Check via the app submission video, here.
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