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FCHS students win Congressional app contest
Competition focuses on STEM areas of study
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: A group of Franklin County High School students is the winner of the first Congressional House App Contest. Shown with their winning app, from left, are Dr. William Schmachtenberg, Darius Hale, Matt Brosinski, Richard Hall and Brandon Hollandsworth.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


A team of Franklin County High School students has won the inaugural Congressional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academic Competition.

Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) announced the winners of the "House App Contest" last week.

Matt Brosinski, Darius Hale, Brandon Hollandsworth and Richard Hall, under the direction of their teacher, Dr. William Schmachtenberg, won the contest for the Fifth District.

The contest, established in 2013 by members of the U.S. House of Representatives, was created to encourage students to participate in STEM areas of study.

The contest was open to all high school students across the nation and invited them to create software applications for mobile, tablet or computer devices on a platform of their choice.  

Each Congressional district named a winning submission.

The winning app for the Fifth District, entitled "Lunar Explorer," allows users to explore the surface of the moon and test their lunar knowledge.

The students said they worked on the app for three months, beginning in February.

"This is a very short time to knock out an app," said Schmachtenberg. "It's very impressive that it was completed in three months. A nice touch that was added, but not required, was the background music created by Darius."

"What these students did was not easy," he added. "They really took the challenge seriously and did a great job."

The app is spread out in landscape form and shows the surface of the moon. Users can navigate the surface using the joysticks on their screens. The app asks questions involving the moon. Correct answers earn points and incorrect answers garner feedback for the player.

"It's so awesome we won," said Brosinski. "We put a massive amount of time into it, so it's nice to see the effort paid off." 

"Congratulations to Matt, Darius, Brandon and Richard for their impressive display of software application knowledge and creativity," Hurt said. "All of the students' submissions were full of ingenuity and imagination, and we were inspired by these young peoples' abilities."

"It is important that we foster the growth of the STEM education fields, as those who excel in these areas of study will undoubtedly propel us forward in future innovations," Hurt added.

Those competing in the contest were required to create two videos -- one describing the software application and another describing the way in which it would be developed and what they learned throughout the competition process.

"An education focused on the STEM fields is of growing importance as our young people prepare for college and enter the workforce," Hurt said. "This competition will encourage our youth to explore the STEM fields, while also allowing them to make a significant contribution to our community."

View the winning app on youtube or by visiting

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