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RUSD students win Congressional App Challenge

By Hector Hernandez, Jr. 

Highland Community News

February 22, 2019


The Redlands Unified School District (RUSD) Board of Education recognized Redlands High School students Richard Hu and James Yang during its Feb. 12 meeting for winning the Congressional App Challenge with their phone app for learning hexadecimal arithmetic.

The challenge, hosted by U.S. Congress, is considered one of the top student computer science challenges in the nation and Hu and Yang won for the 31st congressional district represented by Rep. Pete Aguilar.

Upon receiving their recognition plaques and congratulations from the board, Hu and Yang said they created the app, Hex Rockets, out of a desire to help others learn and enjoy math as they do.

The app teaches hexadecimal math, which uses a 16-symbol system (digits 0 through 9 and letters A through F) through tutorial and a phone game. Computer designers and programmers often use hexadecimal math as s substitute for binary code.

“When we were in middle school we did a lot of competition mathematics and those programs fostered an interest not just in math but all other fields of STEM,” Hu said. “We wanted to create an app that would make learning STEM more fun for people who maybe don’t like math. We wanted to do our part to help solve math anxiety. And this challenge gave us the opportunity to do that.

“We had a great experience learning about code, math and teamwork in doing this,” Yang said.

The board also named David Hoch the district’s certified employee of the month and Highland Grove Elementary special education teacher Daniel Ambriz classified employee of the month. Hoch is a school psychologist serving Crafton and Mentone elementary schools.

Becky Buyak, Ken Carpenter and Laura Diaz were recognized and thanked for dedicating their own time to assist the county registrar of voters in a program in which high school students gained work experience by working polling booths during the general election in November.