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Haddonfield Memorial High School students rewarded for technical acumen

George, Yan building new app that expands financial knowledge.

Haddonfield Memorial High School students Julian George (left) and Pierre Yan (right) won the Congressional App Challenge for creating an app and website which aims to teach youth about various forms and functions of finance.

Congressman Donald Norcross revealed on Dec. 16 that two Haddonfield Memorial High School students emerged victorious in the 2019 Congressional App Challenge. 

Market Royale, the brainchild of junior Pierre Yan and senior Julian George, plans to grow enough to educate users about the intricacies of finance through teaching skills such as investing, saving, basic economic patterns and financial careers. 

It’s the second such accolade in as many years for the pair, who were also part of the winning group last year, when they teamed up to fashion an app for students and parents about the nutritional content in school lunches. 

“I congratulate Julian and Pierre on their achievement in creating a technologically savvy way to teach people about an often difficult subject — financial literacy,” Norcross said in a statement accompanying the announcement. 

George related during a conversation at the high school on Dec. 19 that the winning entry was actually the app in an embryonic stage and that there’s much more to come. The pair have been finishing up the overall design of the website and adding features that will comprise the actual game. 

“I wanted to create this app after taking a class where the importance of finance was reinforced, and I figured out that this game could be educational instead of just for fun,” he said. 

Yan revealed that his contribution is setting up a mock of the stock market, where a single player competes against other “traders,” a program that evolves and reacts to moves the player makes. His initial idea of basing the game off old stock data didn’t provide a “real feel” of playing the market, so Yan adjusted to a realistic and dynamic approach, where stock value is actually reflected in how many players buy and sell. 

“We’re both taking the personal finance class this year,” he added. “Having done a stock project, we thought it would be helpful to have a simulated game where fake profiles trade stocks and affect the outcome of that stock.”

George is taking this time while the app is constructed to challenge himself by learning a new coding system, known as React, a new language very popular among web apps.  

“It’s used for things like YouTube, Facebook and it’s something that has changed the way I think about coding,” he noted. “I hope that it will allow me to input as many features as I can and to do it as efficiently as possible.

“I’m going to be using (Pierre’s) stock aspect in the game, but I’m potentially going to include other markets like commodities markets and other financial stuff like taking out loans.”

Yan estimates he spent somewhere between 28 and 56 hours worth of work — two to four hours a night over a two-week span – just to get things running ahead of the challenge. George figured he worked roughly 10 to 15 hours on front-end basics, but predicted he would need about 30 to 40 more hours to develop detailed features of the site. 

The annual Congressional App Challenge is a nationwide effort to spur interest in coding, STEM and computer-science education among middle- and high-school students.

Winners are invited to the nation’s capital for the #HouseOfCode summit, which will include a reception where students demonstrate their winning apps to representatives in Congress as well as the tech community. 


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