Gratitude aligns us with the will of God
It’s a fair bet that all of us, at some point in our lives, have found ourselves wondering about God’s will for our lives. Every so often, we hit those crisis moments; the trail forks and we wonder if God would have us follow the left path or the right… or does he want us to double back? Maybe he would have us break away altogether and start crashing through the undergrowth!
In these moments, I’ve always found comfort in a little Scripture verse found in I Thessalonians Chapter 5. While it may not speak to the direction I should take in this or that particular situation, it absolutely addresses the manner in which I should make my choice.
“…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV)
In everything give thanks! Whether we choose to go left or right or even experience the agony of retracing our steps, we can know with certainty that doing it with a grateful heart is the will of God.
Gratitude expands our perspective
In my own experience, I’ve found that gratitude has a powerful way of clearing the fog, allowing me to see more clearly where I am. Gratitude forces my thoughts away from myself, away from my problems, away from my pain, and it directs my attention outward. Whether my thankfulness is directed outward to those around me or outward to the Lord himself, that outward shift in attitude is always a win. In fact, I would suggest that it is impossible to maintain selfish or fearful thoughts while one is being grateful. Gratitude is a clean and refreshing wind blowing through the stagnant, self-centered caverns of our souls.
Gratitude transforms our daily lives
As I mused about gratitude and its role in our lives, I couldn’t help but seek out our own Middle School teacher, Carri Svoboda. Back in January 2013, Ms. Svoboda began a new habit: keeping a daily gratitude journal. Her first entry read: “Beginnings and fresh starts. I am grateful that we have an endless number of opportunities to start fresh, to begin again. We don’t only have new years and new seasons. We have new beginnings every day.” Her original inspiration was to see if she could hit the 1,000-entries mark.
Eight years and 17 filled-out journals later, Ms. Svoboda is currently nearing entry number 12,500. In her words, “I’ve discovered not just that I am grateful, but that expressing gratitude creates a more grateful heart. Keeping a record of blessings has not only transformed my perspective on each day, but it has transformed me.”
A practical guide for focusing on gratitude
Ms. Svoboda gave me some pointers to share for those who might consider beginning a practice to focus on gratitude:
- Embed it into an existing ritual or begin one—a cup of tea (or coffee) never hurts. I write my list in the mornings because that is when I practice the spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, and study. But I could just as easily create a nighttime ritual or a mid-day ritual. It just needs to be a time to which you can commit.
- Nothing is off limits. If you are grateful for the morning sunshine, that is just as valid as being grateful for your children. It is the gratitude, not the degree of gratitude that matters.
- If you miss a day, who cares? This is for you, not for a grade. Writing in your gratitude journal is not securing your place in heaven. This is about your transformation, not your salvation.
- If you have children, it could be a rich and wonderful experience to keep a list as a family. Maybe it is something you do at the dinner table each night and you keep track in a family gratitude journal.
With all of these encouragements, the only thing left for us to do is to join in. You don’t need to be particularly skillful, intelligent, or even practiced; a six-year-old child can begin this habit just as well as a sixty-year-old adult.
How else to close these thoughts but with sincere thanks? I thank the Lord for the good community I enjoy each and every day, a community I too often take for granted. I thank him for planting me in a place where learning is valued and people are cherished.
What are you grateful for today?
We’ve written on this blog about the completion, delivery, and feedback for PathPoint’s wheelchair computer desk, but what about the other project intended for Mrs. Jones? We’re glad to report that this project has now been constructed, assembled, and painted according to the student plans and delivered to a grateful 4th grade teacher!
Like all of our COVID-friendly projects this year, the design work was done by students: Alan, Davis, Eliana, Isaiah, Kaitlyn, Kassy, Sam, Zach, and Pedro. Their original concepts were submitted as sketches and miniature models back in October 2020.
|Alan’s early LEGO concept (October 2020)|
Mrs. Jones reviewed these concepts and filtered out the ones that were less suitable. The result of this, plus another online design charrette, was a series of simple sketches and a collaborative CAD model in Onshape, which can be accessed here.
|The result of a design charrette in December 2020|
|The final collaborative CAD model emerges|
Mr. Meadth acted as fabricator for this project, with Zach in 11th grade contributing a beautiful hand-finished red oak table surface. Angel, while not an actual member of this project, worked after school to attach caster wheels and paint according to Mrs. Jones’ requested color scheme.
|The linear actuator motor, intended as a replacement for an
armchair recliner and capable of over 150 lb of force
|The actuator is sandwiched between
two pieces of plywood
|Zach’s table surface attached and
|In retracted position|
From the very beginning, these mechanical furniture designs needed to closely follow the advice given over two thousand years ago by the Roman architect, Vitruvius. Vitruvius was primarily concerned with buildings for home and public use, but his timeless principles seem to fit this project particularly well: firmitas, utilitas, venustas. Translated as “strength, utility, beauty”, this triad neatly underscores the challenges and requirements of Mrs. Jones’ desk.
Strength: Can a desk be put on wheels and still be stable and secure? How can you design a desk that changes its size and shape without risking damage to users and their property (like a laptop that slips off and smashes!)? When will a cantilever design be so audacious as to become a tipping hazard?
Utility: What features are necessary and useful for any teacher? How to incorporate a maximum amount of storage while allowing room for the electrical mechanism? What are the exact heights that Mrs. Jones requires for her sitting and standing? How much desk space is enough?
Beauty: How do you hide away the necessary mechanical equipment? What should be the focal point of this design to catch the eye? What color and trim will best fit a classroom and suit the client?
|Carving out a shallow hole for the wooden handle|
|The wooden handle structure ready for installation
(note the dowels and holes)
|A strap clamp to secure the handle while gluing|
|Angel attaches the caster wheels|
|The rubber stoppers are screwed into place after painting|
|With the door and shelving installed, this is ready for delivery!|
In March 2021, after six months of work, it was finally time to deliver the finished product. With the help of Mr. Knoles, the Lower School Principal, Mr. Meadth surprised the entire class one morning with the desk delivery. Mrs. Jones was delighted to receive the desk, and promptly filled it with her hefty teacher editionsâ€”which definitely helped as a counterbalance to the cantilever design!
|The crew proudly presents their product!|
|Mr. Meadth surprises Mrs. Jones with the
|“So I just press here…?”|
Thank you, Mrs. Jones for allowing us to partner with you in such an interesting project this year. It was an admirable test of the students’ skills as they sketched concepts, designed CAD models, collaborated interactively, calculated forces and moments, and put saw to wood. Well done to each student who contributedâ€”you are accomplishing great things.
Back in February, we posted a blog describing the completion and delivery of our wheelchair computer desk to PathPoint. After a few weeks, we were finally able to get Mr. Meadth and Mr. Gil Addison together with his team to go over the design and get that long-awaited feedback.
Feedback from the end user is critical to the entire design process. For this particular project, the Academy had all sorts of unanswered questions: will the design function as requested? Does the screen angle suit a typical wheelchair user? How convenient is the keyboard position? Is the mechanical motion safe enough for general usage? Would a typical PathPoint resident be able to operate the remote control? What improvements could be made? While we don’t currently plan on producing a Mk II, one project often leads into another and we improve our products by understanding their strengths and weaknesses.
|Gil Addison (far right) together with his grateful staff|
|Mr. Meadth (center) joins in for the camera|
Gil met Mr. Meadth together with six of the PathPoint staff members and together they went over the particulars of the design. You can watch the entire footage here, and a summary of design points is also included below.
As we draw this project to a close, thank you to PathPoint for being willing to work with us in an ongoing fashion! May our students always be inspired to use their God-given gifts with training and understanding, and we hope that the PathPoint residents are blessed through this simple gift.
Screen Angle: Although the older iMac that was tested tended to slip on its hinge, once kept in place, the screen was easily able to tilt downwards to any wheelchair user at a suitable viewing angle.
|Gil tests out the seated angle|
Standing Height: The PathPoint ambulatory staff members found the maximum standing height to be comfortable and sturdy.
|PathPoint staff test the standing height|
Motor Function: Although the motor sounds like it is straining to raise the desk, and there is a slight but noticeable bending of the wooden attachment, the motor appears to be able to operate the desk satisfactorily.
Desk Size: The PathPoint team felt that the final desk size was a little smaller than they would have liked; although the keyboard and mouse did fit on it, there was not much room to move the mouse. Possible solutions: use a trackpad instead, attach a larger plywood sheet to that desk, or rebuild that component.
Operability: It is very easy for an ambulatory user to operate, although the small remote with small buttons may be difficult for some users. The desk adjustment at the front might be hard to operate, but it probably doesn’t need to be used often after being set in one position. Possible solutions: rebuild the remote with larger buttons that still trigger the same microswitches, build an app that uses the same remote frequency.
Other Improvements: The iMac base barely fit under the clamp; the wooden piece at the back that gets in the way could be chamfered down. The same wooden piece that flexes slightly could be doubled up. A spherical router bit could carve out a channel in the desk for the keyboard to fit into. The carriage bolts for the rear clamp could be longer to permit a thicker desk.
Following on from our last post, we’d like to provide an update: the custom computer desk for Gil Addison at PathPoint was recently delivered, bringing that particular project to a close. This desk raises up and down to any given height using an electrically driven linear actuator. The wheelchair user carries the remote control key fob, allowing complete adjustment from near or far. The desk is intentionally designed to tip the computer forwards to face down towards the user, as many wheelchairs seat the occupant in a reclined position.
You can play with the online CAD model here.
At the time of this writing, we are still waiting for feedback on the end result and photos of the desk in action. But in the meanwhile, enjoy some photos of the students as they put together the final product and examined the results. Thank you, Gil, for helping us execute such a meaningful project!
|The final product assembled in the workshop, after some
final modifications. The actuator placement had to be changed
in order to create more torque to lift the table.
|After disassembly, Nolan (senior) set to
work applying the protective oil to the
upper table surface
|Abby (freshman) oils the lower base piece|
|After all pieces were oiled, Angel (sophomore) reassembled
the entire structure together with Mr. Meadth
|A few more bolts to go–almost there!|
|The finished product as attached to a typical household
table, keyboard shown
|The finished product in the full lowered position|
|Teleios, Hunter, and Abby (freshmen) get their first
look at the end result on the day of delivery
|Joshua and Nolan (seniors) test out the remote control|
|The whole team from left to right: Hans, Abby, Hunter,
Teleios, Mr. Meadth, Angel, Joshua, and Nolan
(James was also in this group); note an iMac computer
attached as per intended use
|Freshmen Hans and Hunter, tools out|
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the Providence Engineering Academy follows a particular philosophy that transcends circumstances. While many robotics clubs and engineering programs might teach physics, maker skills, CAD, and more, we believe that these elements—”fascinating as they may be—are only the means to an end. In the latest application form for the coming year, there are six “big ideas” listed; Big Idea Number 1 is that service matters:
As Christians, we have an obligation to turn our skills outward to the world around us; we learn not for our own sakes.
While we may not be allowed to mix cohorts or share equipment, the seventeen dedicated upper school students are committed to loving their community using their math, physics, coding, CAD, robotics, and maker skills.
Early on in the school year, we found two willing partners in this process: one was Mr. Gil Addison of PathPoint, an organization serving at-home and on-site residents, many of whom use a wheelchair each day due to their limited mobility. The other was Mrs. Christa Jones, 4th Grade teacher in the Providence Lower School. Both of these clients had distinct requests for custom-made furniture and it was the perfect opportunity for our students to put their new-found statics knowledge to the test (statics is the study of physically balanced situations where the net force is zero, such as buildings and bridges).
|Mrs. Christa Jones, 4th Grade Providence Teacher|
|Mr. Gil Addison, PathPoint|
Mr. Addison wanted a custom-made desk for an iMac computer that could be set to a lower height for a wheelchair occupant, and then back up to a standing desk height for an ambulatory user. Such a desk is hard to find in the current marketplace, and the engineering students saw an opportunity to provide something uniquely useful. The desk would be mechanically driven by a remote control, safe for an individual with limited dexterity, and functional to hold the computer at any height without concern.
By contrast, Mrs. Jones needed a new teaching desk at the front of her room to help meet the new style of a COVID year. This mobile desk would need to be equally useful in a standing or sitting position, for maximum versatility with her in-person and at-home students.
How to meet the needs of these clients in a year when the Engineering Academy is functioning in an independent-learning mode? How could we hold a meaningful design charrette when mixing between cohorts is prohibited? How can seventeen students come up with an agreed-upon detailed design and communicate it with the clients?
Answer: with creativity, technological tools, and a great attitude!
The students began by watching pre-recorded videos from the clients as they described their requests and necessary constraints to Mr. Meadth, the Academy Director. Mr. Meadth offered up some quick sketches and ideas in the videos to help sort through what would and wouldn’t work.
|Early notes for Christa Jones’ project|
|Early notes for Gil Addison’s project|
The students then used LEGO and other construction materials to make quick miniature mock-ups of their ideas, along with sketches to help show functionality. The images were sent to the clients to help them think through the possible solutions at hand. Another round of recorded video reviews with the clients, and then the real design work began!
|Alan’s rolling cart concept|
|Kaitlyn’s desk concept with extendable platforms|
Together with Mr. Meadth, the students worked together over Zoom and in their grade level cohorts, using the cloud-based CAD tools from Onshape. With each student taking ownership of several parts from the whole, they worked collaboratively to produce something that could be presented back to client as a visualization and to the fabricator as dimensioned drawings. Teleios in 9th Grade can create the top part of the desk, Angel in 10th Grade can make the support struts, and Nolan in 12th Grade can design the platform for the keyboard. All team members can see how the pieces fit together in advance, spotting potential problems before a single cut is made. This kind of ease, speed, and confidence in the design process simply did not exist even five years ago, and we are glad for it!
|Mrs. Jones’ rolling cart CAD model|
|Mr. Addison’s adjustable computer desk CAD model|
So where are we today? After purchasing the plywood, oak, mechanical actuators, caster wheels, and other bits and pieces, fabrication is underway. The clients are now eagerly awaiting the delivery of their prototypes. Gil Addison’s computer desk is nearly complete at the time of this article, and Zach in 11th Grade has put together a beautiful biscuit-joined red oak desk surface for Mrs. Jones’ rolling cabinet.
|James assembles the clamping mechanism for Gil’s design|
|Teleios and Abby show off the parallel linkages|
|Nolan with the mechanical actuator|
|The vision nears reality for PathPoint!|
|Zach’s red oak table surface (3 ft long)|
We’ll update this blog site as the projects are completed and delivered. For now, we’re just glad to be able to continue our exciting mission through a pandemic and out the other side. The exhortation in I Peter Chapter 4 seems particularly apt:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of Godâ€™s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
Keep on serving with the strength God provides, engineering students! You’re making us all very proud.
There hasn’t been a lot of action on this blog site so far this school yearâ€”but not because there aren’t things worth writing home about! As you can imagine, I (Mr. Meadth) have been much busier on the ground each day with cleaning and supervision, let alone teaching the engineering class.
But some things are worth documenting and celebrating. So let’s jump in!
1. Four New Freshmen
We took four new engineering students into the freshman class. A big welcome to Hunter, Abby, Teleios, and Eliana. These junior engineers are hitting the ground running, despite all the challenges. They are learning trigonometry before their time, taking baby steps into the world of computer-aided design (CAD), and just generally being awesome. Welcome, freshmen!
|Hunter, Teleios, and Abby (Eliana couldn’t make this
photo, but she’s just as much a part of this group!)
2. College-Level Statics… From a Textbook
Despite my propensity to always design my own curriculum from the ground up, I tried something new this year: a textbook! It turns out this was the perfect year in which to do this, as it matched well to the statics studies that we’ve always done anyway. Don’t be led astray by the nameâ€”Statics for Dummiesâ€”the lighthearted tone helps high schoolers get through those pesky equations. For those engineering parents out there, you’ll find all of the fun you can handle in vector calculations, force couples, and free-body diagrams.
3. Independent Mode
This is a grand experiment, and one that we committed to from the start of the year. Can we commit to a full year of engineering studies in independent mode? Some would say that it’s never been tried, but this is the year to come up with new solutions! Despite the absence of stimulating classroom discussions, this has allowed students to take seven classes plus engineering, and it allows students to watch at their own pace. Students have watched 18 videos so far this year, and responded with written assignments and discussion boards. They are now eagerly discussing their community design project in a shared Google Doc, which brings us to Number 4…
|Acceleration sums in three dimension, anyone?|
4. Community Design Project
I’m so happy with how this project is rolling forward! We have two “clients”, Mrs. Christa Jones on the San Roque campus and Mr. Gil Addison at PathPoint, who works with residents in wheelchairs. Our student teams are busily designing an adjustable standing desk for Mrs. Jones and an adjustable computer desk for Mr. Addison. Both of these designs are required to involve electrical/mechanical aspects, such as motorized lifts or built-in LED lighting. Once the student teams finalize their designs, complete with drawings and CAD models, I (Mr. Meadth) will be building their designs myselfâ€”in the interest of staying as contact-less as possible.
5. Lots of Publicity
6. Major Grant Win
Is it just me that believes in our outstanding Providence engineering program? Is it just the university lecturers who receive our already-highly-trained students? Am I just blowing my own horn over here? Apparently not! The Toshiba America Foundation decided that our second-semester robotics project was something worth funding, and we are pleased to announce that over $4,000 of the very latest in classroom robotics equipment will soon be arriving on campus. This will be put to use in our Mars Rover project, where different student teams will design, build, and code different components of one big vehicle. I’m looking forward to this one. Thanks, Toshiba!
|One of the advanced Vex V5 sets: coming soon!|
As always, stay posted for more exciting announcements. Our junior engineers are doing something very different, but making the most of it. I’m confident that their skills and experience will remain at the very highest level amongst similar programs in our area. Keep it up, students!
You can’t choose the hand you’re dealt, but you can play it to win every time.
Along with every one else around the globe, the Providence Engineering Academy was dealt a tough hand in March. Having worked so hard in the lead-up to the major capstone projectâ€”to design, build, and fly a powered tethered aircraftâ€”being asked to complete the project from home was not the situation that anyone wanted. But in the spirit of problem-solving, our junior and senior engineers faced up to the challenge. After all, what is engineering all about if not solving problems?
Our last post on this project ended with the four teams designing various aircraft components using professional-grade CAD software. They had sent their designs to Mr. Meadth, who began to 3D print their fuselages and tails, cut their carbon fiber, and CNC mill their wooden wing ribs, all from the comfort (?) of his garage.
|The garage workshop: where the magic happens!|
Over the course of several weeks, each team’s delivery bag in the garage began to pile higher and higher with these manufactured components, along with advanced electric motors, lightweight lithium batteries, tissue paper, and other bits and pieces. Every last one of these components had been accounted for in duplicate: in a virtual CAD model and a complex spreadsheet. The CAD model held the actual design for manufacture, visualization, assembly guarantee, and mass/center-of-gravity prediction. The spreadsheet calculated wing and tail lift, which in turn yielded a force and moment balance, and also a redundant center-of-gravity prediction. (Redundancy is not a negative word in aircraft engineering!)
Quick science lesson: the center of gravity (c.g.) is where the sum of all weight is located. In other words, it’s the point at which you could balance the aircraft on your finger, or where you could hang it from a string. It is determined by the masses and locations of the individual components, and it was critical that our uncontrolled aircraft had the center of gravity forward of the wing’s lift force. Without going into the deeper explanation, having the center of gravity as close to the nose as possible means that the aircraft will be self-correcting and stable as it flies. Try attaching a paperclip to the nose of your next paper aircraft and note the dramatic improvement! This is why we ran two separate c.g. calculations using two different methodâ€”we wanted to absolutely confirm before manufacture.
|Sam and Josh work on RUBYGEM, papering and
doping the wings
Mr. Meadth delivered each team’s bag directly to their respective homes. Upon arrival, each team worked hard to assemble the aircraft. This involved inserting carbon fiber spars into 3D printed wing boxes, stringing the wooden ribs evenly along the spars, covering the ribs with tissue paper, and then applying dope (a kind of water-based glue) to the paper. The doped paper dries and hardens into a kind of thin shell. The various electronics components were also connected and secured, along with the tail and undercarriage (landing gear).
At the same time, the simple tethering system had to be designed and implemented. The wooden stand sits in the middle of the flight path, and a 3D printed bearing served as an anchor point for the tether line. The tether was then attached to the wingtip. Some of the aircraft needed a little more rigging to ensure that the centripetal force didn’t rip the wingtip loose!
- Challenges are there to be overcome. The project could have modified to be easier, simpler, more virtual, you name it. But that kind of logic doesn’t get you into the history books, and doesn’t give the same kind of satisfaction. Greater levels of determination can turn challenges into victory.
- Theory is useful, but doesn’t account for everything. Math and physics equations and computer simulations are incredibly useful, and with high-level manufacturing can be a very good analogy of the intended outcome. But the fact is that our theoretical calculations didn’t account for a great many factors. This makes it all the more important to create robust, stable designs. The aircraft didn’t perform exactly as intended, but they did perform in the real world.
- Aircraft need firmly attached tails. You may want to check the welds next time you hop on board your next 737.
Our students can’t be together in person right now, but nothing is going to stop them finishing the capstone design/build/fly project for the 2019-2020 year. With digital tools in their hands and computer-controlled manufacturing equipment at the other end, our budding engineers, now sheltered in place, are experiencing the reality of a modern workflow. Even before the advent of COVID-19, many companies routinely collaborated from around the globe, producing advanced designs using international teams. Although not our first choice of preference, we’re taking the challenge head-on!
|Mr. Meadth teaching aircraft stability via Zoom|
|The virtual wind tunnel program XFoil: a classic
historical aerospace simulation! Note the cambered
airfoil shape at the bottom, with the yellow boundary
layer on top and the blue one below
|Pedro’s and Nolan’s aircraft in its complete form|
|The same aircraft in an exploded view|
|The delivery of the critical
|The Providence Engineering Academy
|A completed wing rib from Ben and Todd, with
carbon fiber spar inserted
|The vertical tail for Nolan’s and Pedro’s aircraft,
over nine hours in the making!
|The huge 30-hour print of the fuselage/
wing box (lots of temporary support
material can still be seen
The following article appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press on the 7th of January, written by Christian Whittle.
When Freshman Ruby Kilpper and sophomore Sydney Whited of the Providence School high school set out to develop an app for the Congressional App Challenge, they had a lot of ideas and not much time to choose one.
â€œWe kept narrowing it down based on our skill level, what we thought we could do, and how much time we had,â€ said Sydney.
Eventually the two settled on Santa Barbara Volunteer Opportunities, a way for high schoolers to find volunteer opportunities in the area. And after a month of dedication their hard work paid off, winning the app challenge in Rep. Salud Carbajalâ€™s 24th Congressional District.
Ruby and Sydney received the Congressional App Challenge award from Mr. Carbajal on Monday.
The annual coding competition for students was created to increase congressional awareness of computer science and STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).
Mr. Carbajal brought the two students to his Santa Barbara district office to honor their achievements and invite them to a reception at the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
â€œItâ€™s a great opportunity to provide to our constituents and our young people, and itâ€™s really cool to have young people from your district represented in Washington. Weâ€™re all very proud of you,â€ said Mr. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara.
The pair are students in the Providence Engineering Academy. Launched in 2015, the academy, led by Rodney Meadth, serves as a springboard for students considering a career in math, science, or engineering disciplines. Participants enroll in specific classes from ninth through 12th grades.
Santa Barbara High School students won the challenge last year, but Providence stepped up the competition in 2019 by submitting eight projects.
â€œWeâ€™ve never gotten so many projects submitted from one school in particular, so obviously your teacher and your school had a lot to do with it and it just makes me feel really good about our future, the fact that you have a local school whoâ€™s really promoting coding,â€ Mr. Carbajal told the students.
The app Ruby and Sydney created for the competition, the Santa Barbara Volunteer Opportunities app, allows local nonprofits to post opportunities to serve, with details about age and time requirements, location, and the work needed from volunteers.
Users can use the app when they are interested in finding somewhere to serve. The pair wrote the appâ€™s script in Java with 500 lines of code, and designed it mainly for use by high school students.
Sydney and Ruby were inspired to make the app by Providenceâ€™s annual day of service, in which students volunteer around the city, as well as Sydneyâ€™s experience volunteering with her mother for the Santa Barbara chapter of the National Charity League.
â€œI think itâ€™s a great requirement to go out and serve your community, but sometimes it can be difficult to find opportunities to serve,â€ Ruby said.
The pair wanted to create a platform where students can reach out to organizations on their own to find different opportunities that work for their schedule and interests.
â€œWe wanted to create an app that made the process easier and overall better for our community,â€ said Ruby.
â€œThis was very innovative,â€ said Mr. Carbajal. â€œMy staff and I, we went through them all, and yours was clearly at the top early on because itâ€™s just so practical, and itâ€™s so user friendly.â€
Although they had some experience coding, it was the first time either of them had worked with Java. Sydney had tried coding in middle school and didnâ€™t take to it, but this time around she and Ruby had a lot of fun. Both have been inspired to continue learning about coding as they think about college and the future.
With the limited time to come up with a concept and develop the app, Sydney and Ruby werenâ€™t able to fit in every feature they wanted, like a search bar and map. Nevertheless, theyâ€™re proud of what they were able to accomplish.
The SBVO app is still in the development and testing stage and is not yet available for download, but Ruby and Sydney are considering finishing the project despite the Challenge having ended.
Established in 2015, the Congressional App Challenge is considered to be the most prestigious prize in student computer science, according to the CAC website.
Members of the House of Representatives host contests in their districts for middle 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 U.S. Capitol during the annual #HouseOfCode festival in the spring.
Since its inception, the CAC has inspired more than 14,000 students across 48 states to program an app. In 2019, 10,000 students registered for the competition, 2,177 created and submitted functioning apps, and 304 House members chose winners from their districts.
Sydney and Ruby will receive a $250 Amazon Web Service Credit. Their app and their names will be displayed on the Congressional App Challenge website. The House of Representatives reception will be the second time Sydney and Ruby have visited the Capitol, after an eighth-grade field trip to the city.
â€œNow you get to go back as winners!â€ said Mr. Carbajal.