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story.lead_photo.caption Arthi Krishna, left, and brother Arjun Krishna won the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for U.S. Rep. Steve Womack's 3rd Congressional District of Arkansas. The Bentonville High School students designed an application called BookGazers that's meant to encourage children to read. - Photo by Dave Perozek

ROGERS -- Twin 15-year-olds Arthi and Arjun Krishna said they looked around their school and noticed many other students weren't very interested in reading. They thought a mobile app that fosters a love of reading at an early age might be a good idea.

They created BookGazers, an app that provides videos, puzzles and quizzes to enhance the material of a companion book.

Judges chose BookGazers as the winner of this year's Congressional App Challenge for the 3rd District of Arkansas, represented by Steve Womack.

Arthi and Arjun, both Bentonville High School students, got a chance to meet Womack on Monday at his Rogers office, where the Republican congressman presented them both with a medallion and a certificate recognizing their accomplishment.

The students' parents attended the presentation, as did several representatives of the Bentonville School District, including Superintendent Debbie Jones.

The U.S. House of Representatives launched the challenge in 2013 to promote student creativity and engagement in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. This is the third year Womack sponsored the contest in his district.

Womack praised the Bentonville School District for the achievements of its students both in the classroom and on the athletic fields.

"Now I'm rewarding a Bentonville pair here, twins, with an honor that comes out of STEM education, which we all know is the new real focal point for education and the future of our country," Womack said.

Arthi and Arjun demonstrated BookGazers for their audience Monday. Arthi had written a story with BookGazers icons scattered throughout the book. Placing a smartphone over the page and scanning one of the icons brings up an interactive menu with options to take a comprehension quiz, play a video related to the material on the page, or do an activity such as a word search that includes words from the story.

The Congressional App Challenge was open to all high school students in Womack's district. Arthi and Arjun's submission competed against five others, all from Greenwood High School.

The winner was selected by a panel of judges from the community, including Jeff Amerine and Phyl Amerine of Startup Junkie Consulting and Haley Allgood of Startup Junkie Foundation.

The way BookGazers combines printed material with the digital world is interesting, said Jeff Amerine.

"This was an educational technology application we could see would have wide utilization and wide interest in a lot of different areas," Amerine said. "So that was the most compelling thing. It was a great story. It was well presented. It was clearly done with a lot of technical work. So we were proud to select them."

Arthi and Arjun have attended Bentonville schools since elementary school. Though they are twins, Arjun is a junior and Arthi is a sophomore because Arjun skipped a grade.

Arjun is enrolled in the information technology strand of the Bentonville School District's Ignite program, which immerses students in real experiences in a professional environment with support from a facilitating teacher and professional mentors. Through Ignite he is doing an internship with the Web development team at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Arthi and Arjun thanked their technology teachers for their guidance. They also thanked their parents, Krishna Munuswamy and Chitra Krishna, for supporting their efforts in developing the application.

"Whenever we hit a roadblock and we were getting real frustrated, they sat with us and said, 'Let's talk this out. Let's figure this out,'" Arthi said.

BookGazers will be displayed at a kiosk in the U.S. Capitol.

Congressional App Challenge

The Congressional App Challenge is a public effort to encourage kids to learn how to code through annual district-wide competitions hosted by members of Congress for their district.

Students in participating districts code original applications for the chance to be selected for recognition by their member of Congress, win prizes, and have their work put on display in the Capitol Building in Washington. The district-wide competitions take place from July through early November.

Source: Staff report

Metro on 11/21/2017

Print Headline: Bentonville High twins' app wins challenge for 3rd District

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