Freshman wins Congressional App Challenge

There are many talents in a high school, but did you know there is a freshman in our school that makes smartphone apps?



Freshman Casper Stockman peeks out from one of the marketing shots from his video.

Matteo Ventresca '25, Detours Editor

Freshman Casper Stockman dedicated his time to creating an app that won the annual Congressional App Contest for Pennsylvania’s Fifth District.

Stockman entered the Congressional App Challenge in Nov. 2022 and won on Feb. 1, 2023. The Congressional Internet Caucus initiates the contest each year, and the contest is organized along the U.S. House of Representatives’ districts in each state. Stockman won Pennsylvania’s Fifth District, led by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon.

This year’s Congressional App Challenge set the record for most student registrations and most apps submitted, with most districts receiving over 20 apps, according to the challenge’s website. 

Stockman first heard about the contest opportunity in a Strath Haven newsletter. “I procrastinated submitting it for three to four months, and then I thought I might as well submit something anyways,” he said.

Mrs. Katie McLead is the sponsor of the contest for Strath Haven. She is in charge of publicizing the competition to the students. Rep. Scanlon decides the rest. 

“[Stockman] made this amazing app,” McLead said. “I think part of it was his awesome videos.”

Stockman’s app is called “Party Games”. When Stockman was at a friend’s house, someone looked up “Truth or Dare questions.” This inspired him to make an app with every party game.

“Party Games is an all-in-one app filled with various party games as the name suggests, such as Truth or Dare, Trivia, Never Have I Ever, etc.,” Stockman said.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Stockman read a book about coding. He became engrossed in the topic, and his love for computer science grew.

“I just started to web design in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are different languages,” he said. 

After reading the book, he realized that he really wanted to work on mobile app development. He started taking some free courses from Google to learn how to make apps from scratch.

“I don’t really have a specific field of apps that I like to do, just whatever I get as an idea for inspiration, or that I’m really passionate about because the passion really fuels the work that has to go into it,” Stockman said.

According to Stockman, there are three steps to making an app—design, development, and production.

He explains that the design depends on the complexity of the app, but usually takes about two to six days. The development took him a week and a half. The hardest part of building the app, Stockman said, is the production. The production’s main problem is that it requires money—and to earn money with an app, the developer needs to advertise.

“Once you have things that you think people will want, you have to let them know that it exists, and I have a lot of trouble dealing with that,” he said.

A lot of advertising happens on social media. Stockman likes to use TikTok because of its big audience. Advertisements can also be purchased on Facebook, Tik Tok, or Google. Developers also other strategies, such as getting press coverage, so the app gets higher on the App Store listing. This is called ASO or app store optimization, which he is still learning.

One change he would make to the app is to add more questions to the mini-games.

“None of the games are particularly complicated, and maybe something a little less cliche could be more interesting to play,” he said.

Stockman has started developing with “Unity,” a cross-platform game engine, which can increase the complexity of games. He is currently creating a runner game. He enjoys creating apps, but is pessimistic about the future of the field.

“Apps have kind of had their time, but I don’t really think they are thriving very much now,” he said. “It’s a really saturated and kind of dying market, in the sense that it’ll be here for a dozen more years or so.”