Congressman announces winners of 2020 Congressional App Challenge


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U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has announced the winners of this year’s New Jersey Fourth Congressional District Congressional App Challenge, part of a nationwide competition for middle school and high school students to showcase their software app-developing skills and teamwork.

The winning app (application), CollabraCart, was designed by Communications High School students Erin Hardiman of Spring Lake, Melody Lin of Freehold and Jacob Rosegarten of Morganville, according to a press release from Smith’s office.

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“I am pleased to congratulate all the winning students at Communications High School,” Smith was quoted as saying in the press release. “The winning app, CollabraCart, is very timely in the COVID era in which we find ourselves. It can match people who are struggling to purchase groceries with individuals who are seeking to donate their time and/or money to help them.

“During these unprecedented times when many of our fellow New Jerseyans are struggling to maintain their livelihood and feed their families, it was great to see Melody, Erin and Jacob work together and develop an app that will help others in our community,” the congressman said.

At a user’s discretion, the service may stay anonymous and people may opt to connect with another user through a “Friends” feature. All money donated would be used for the payment of somebody’s groceries, according to the press release.

Timed to coincide with Computer Science Education Week, which took place from Dec. 7-13, Smith said this year’s contest drew entries from Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Twenty-nine students participated in teams and as individuals to design nine apps. Communications High School, a Monmouth County Vocational School District career academy in Wall Township, swept all three top spots.

The second place app is Green Garden, designed by Brigid McCarthy of Manasquan, Abi Cohen of Marlboro and Rina Peshori of Holmdel.

The students worked to aid the conservation of at-risk insect species through technology and engagement of an audience with a unique potential to create change.

Green Garden serves a dual purpose of education and entertainment. Users take care of and grow their own virtual garden while learning how these efforts, when applied to real life, have the potential to help insect populations, according to the press release.

The third place app is Roomiez, designed by Nate Riehl of Manasquan, Ava Turner of Middletown and Jake Polvino of Tinton Falls.

Roomiez is an app that helps college students find roommates. The app prompts a user seeking a compatible roommate with multiple choice questions and the ability to select interest tags in various categories.

The app saves the answers from each user and will only display other users with similar interests, sorting by the closest match first, according to the press release.

In the Congressional App Challenge, students are permitted to create an app on any topic using any coding language or platform. The challenge encourages students to harness creativity to address issues in their own communities, according to the press release.

This year, more than half of the entries directly or indirectly addressed issues caused by COVID-19.

More than 91% of the students reported that they intend to continue coding and 95% of the students said they are more likely to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) after participating in the Congressional App Challenge, according to the press release.

Middle school students and high school students from Smith’s Fourth Congressional District who are interested in participating in the 2021 contest may contact Smith’s Freehold Township office at 732-780-3035 and visit

Towns in Smith’s district include: Allentown, Colts Neck; Eatontown, Englishtown, Fair Haven, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Holmdel, Howell; Jackson, Manalapan, Middletown (part), Millstone Township, Red Bank Borough, Rumson, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls Borough and Upper Freehold Township.

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