ROCKVILLE, M.D. – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today announced the winners of his 2020 Congressional App Challenge: teammates Kevin Xu, a Senior at Montgomery Blair High School, and Leon Si, a Junior at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute Ontario. Their winning submission, Tabulo, is a free virtual whiteboard app that can dramatically improve the virtual learning experience for teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tabulo connects a mobile device to a computer and turns it into an enhanced drawing pad: whatever you draw or write on your phone is synchronized with the computer in real-time.
The students were inspired to create Tabulo when they saw teachers struggling to find a suitable replacement for classroom whiteboards as they adapted to virtual classrooms; other apps force teachers to draw with a computer mouse, which is difficult and limits the ability of students to engage in virtual learning. Tabulo is collaborative, so teachers can invite their students to the Tabulo-based whiteboard to write or draw responses using their own device, increasing classroom engagement. Kevin has spoken to several of his teachers about the app, and they have expressed interest in using it.
As a web-based app, Tabulo works on any computer or mobile device regardless of its operating system, including Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, iOS, or Google Android. In addition, strong security protections have been built into the app, including password-protected rooms, a Zoom-like “waiting room” feature, and a “whitelisting” feature. In April, the students entered the app into a Silicon Valley competition and won the Best App and Best Education App awards by a panel of judges that included Steve Chen, a co-founder of YouTube, and the Head of Product at Uber’s Self-Driving Car Initiative. You can watch a two-minute demo video about the award-winning app here.
“It is an honor to represent Maryland’s 8th District, which is home to so many talented and inspired students, as evidenced by the many excellent entries submitted in this year’s Congressional App Challenge,” said Rep. Raskin. “I commend all of the student coders who submitted innovative and creative apps, and I am immensely grateful for America’s dedicated teachers and educators whose commitment to their students prevails during an unprecedented era of virtual learning.”
The Congressional App Challenge began in 2014 as an effort to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and to encourage students to learn coding and computer science skills. Students in participating congressional districts compete against their peers by creating original software applications (“apps”). Winning apps are featured on the U.S. House of Representatives' website, the Congressional App Challenge website, and are displayed in a U.S. Capitol Building exhibit. Winning students from across the country will be recognized at the House of Code reception next spring to demonstrate their app to Members of Congress and staff.