Richard Hu, James Yang winners of Aguilar’s App Challenge

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Redlands High School students Richard Hu and James Yang, pictured with Congressman Pete Aguilar, created Hex Rockets, an app they hope will shift the mindset of students toward an attitude that math can be fun and engaging.
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Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) announced the Congressional App Challenge winners for California’s 31stCongressional District. Richard Hu and James Yang, a senior and a junior at Redlands High School, were selected as this year’s winners for their app, Hex Rockets. Hex Rockets is a game designed to help players learn hexadecimal arithmetic with the goal of making STEM learning more fun and engaging for players. The contest was judged by Dr. Tony Coulson, Director of the Cyber Security Center at California State University, San Bernardino.

“I was proud to host the Congressional App Challenge for Inland Empire students for the first time this year. We know that the jobs of the 21stCentury are going to require STEM educations, and the Congressional App Challenge is a great way to get local students excited about STEM. Richard and James really impressed us with their app because it was designed to help more students enjoy STEM subjects, encouraging more of their peers to look into the field,” said Rep. Aguilar.

“STEM will likely dominate future careers, yet math consistently tops polls of least favorite school subjects. As longtime math competitors, James and I wanted to change this mindset towards math,” said Richard Hu.

“Hex Rockets hopes to shift the attitude towards mathematics by nurturing enthusiasm and interest in the topic in a fun and compelling way and engaging the player firsthand in a different form of math,” commented James Yang, who co-created Hex Rockets with Richard Hu.

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“The Congressional App challenge is wonderful because it gives students a chance to show an element of creativity, but also to show off STEM skills. The investments our schools have made in this area over the past few years are really starting to pay off, and I was very impressed by the products that came out of this challenge. Hex Rockets showed how these students could leverage different parts of technology and put them together in a creative and fun way,” said Dr. Tony Coulson.

As the winners from California’s 31st District, both Richard and James are invited  the #HouseofCode reception in Washington, DC, where they will have a chance to meet the winners from other participating Congressional Districts. In addition, the winners will be given $250 in Amazon Web Services credits and a description of their app can be seen on a digital display in the US Capitol for one year.   

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