BASIS Peoria High Schooler Wins Congressional Challenge For Toy Exchange App

BASIS Peoria High Schooler Wins Congressional Challenge For Toy Exchange App

By Corinne Murdock |

A BASIS Peoria high school student won one of this year’s congressional app development challenges for her app enabling parents to exchange or donate their children’s toys. 

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) featured the winner, Molly Budhiraja, and her app, “Project Toy Exchange,” in her weekly newsletter issued last Saturday. 

Budhiraja’s app will be displayed on the Congressional App Challenge website and in the U.S. Capitol, along with other winners nationwide. Budhiraja will have the opportunity to showcase her app to Congress during the annual #HouseofCode festival, a large science fair.

“I am so pleased to congratulate Molly Budhiraja for winning this year’s Congressional App Challenge,” stated Lesko in a press release. “Project Toy Exchange is a great app that connects parents with each other and encourages people to donate toys to children in the community. It is an honor to represent so many bright students, and it is wonderful to see how they use their talents and creativity through these apps to help others!”

Budhiraja thanked the congresswoman in a LinkedIn post, expressing excitement about the future of her app.

“I was honored to meet such an enthusiastic and intelligent woman leader in our community, who not only does remarkable work for our state, but our nation as well,” stated Budhiraja. “It was a pleasure to talk about my app and my future goals with the congresswoman and her team.”

The second-place winners were Mountain Ridge High School students Apramey Akkiraju and Rohan Agrawal. The teens created a “COVID-19 Tracker” app that provided color-coded maps detailing case count concentrations in the Western part of the country, as well as data on case and death counts. 

Third-place winners were Challenge Charter School students Alexandra Acuna and Tori Lugo. The pair created the “Math4Life2” app, which helps children with multiplication problems and seeks to make math more fun. 

All three apps proposed creative solutions to real issues facing Arizonans: rising costs of toys due to the inflation crisis, advising concerned Arizonans about COVID-19 spread, and fostering a positive relationship with math amid declining test scores.

One of the second-place winners, Agrawal, was last year’s champion, along with Dens Sumesh, a BASIS Peoria student. The pair created the app “DebateEV,” a website that collects existing debate card evidence and makes it accessible via a search format similar to Google’s. Agrawal and Sumesh stated that forced transition to remote learning, coupled with their ongoing involvement in their high school debate club, inspired the app. 

Last year, Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-02), Andy Biggs (R-04), David Schweikert (R-06), and Ruben Gallego (D-07) also hosted challenges and named winners.

Kirkpatrick awarded first place to “Memolog” by Gregory School students Erik Wisnom, Chris Allen, Ted Roberts, and Karl Ramus. Their app applied memorization techniques to any piece a student needed to memorize.

Biggs’ winner was an artificial intelligence-based wildfire prevention system by Hamilton High School student Prisha Shroff. 

Schweikert awarded first place to “Zubin’s Dungeon Quest” by BASIS Scottsdale student Zubin Sidhu, a video game that blended education with entertainment.

Gallego’s winner was “Surviving the Pandemic While Back-to-School” by University High School students Kamille Cuison, Liana Kay De Guzman, and Nathan Caldwell-Meeks. Their app informed students about the background, treatment options, and safety protocols for COVID-19.

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge reported producing over 2,100 fully functioning apps. Over 7,100 students entered the competition through 340 congressmens’ challenges.

The annual Congressional App Challenge is funded by the Omidyar Network, Amazon (Web Services), theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, Rise, ACT: the App Association, Comcast NBCUniversal, and CGI. 

In addition to Lesko, Kirkpatrick, Biggs, Schweikert, and Gallego, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-03) is also hosting a challenge this year. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.