Elena Miller presents her app Scoregenix for the 2020 Congressional App Challenge, which she won in Maine’s 1st District. Courtesy / Elena Miller

YARMOUTH — As a softball player since sixth grade, Elena Miller found that scorekeeping was unnecessarily difficult and decided to use programs offered through her freshman computer science class to develop a solution.

The result was Scoregenix, an app that keeps track of scoring for softball and baseball games that earned Miller a place in the winner’s circle for the 2020 Congressional App Challenge in Maine’s First District.

“I saw on my softball team how many people struggled to learn how to keep the book because it’s a very confusing process,” said Miller, a junior at Yarmouth High School. “I thought it would be cool to make that easier for everyone.”

Scoregenix breaks down the score-keeping process into simple push buttons and menus, organizing the data input into a spreadsheet that players, coaches and fans alike can save after the game.

Yarmouth High School offers a computer science class that Miller took her freshman year that introduced her to computer application development. When she came across a posting for the Congressional App Challenge this past June, she decided to refine her independent work from freshman year and submit it to the contest.

According to Miller, her passion for computer science was sparked way before high school.

If you asked me when I was younger what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say I wanted to be a website designer,” Miller said. “So I’ve always been interested in coding, and in high school I’ve been able to dig deeper into that.” 

Miller is also a member of the school’s robotics club, for which she does various coding work.

“She’s a really fascinating combination of humility, attention to detail, persistence, creativity,” said Paul Lamson La Plume, Miller’s freshman year computer science teacher.  “… essentially all the positive words you could use to describe a student would apply to Elena. “It’s a joy to work with her because there’s this back and forth of ideas in the pursuit of creating an app and solving a problem.” 

Computer science classes at Yarmouth High School have been growing in popularity over the last five or so years, according to La Plume, who has been working in the math department for 15 years. Miller was in the first class that was offered for a full year, instead of just a semester.

“The student engagement in that class is the one of the highest I’ve seen in any class that I’ve taught,” La Plume said. “The creative aspect of computer science and programming isn’t visible at face value, but if you start to think about developing an app and making a program, there is so much creativity involved.”

The Congressional App Challenge is a nationwide program started in 2015 to highlight the technological and creative abilities of middle and high school students in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – around the country. Students compete with others within their district, and a winner from each district is chosen. Maine’s 2nd District did not participate this year, according to the Portland Press Herald.

According to the Congressional App Challenge’s website, the competition has grown significantly in popularity, with a 164% increase in student participation from 2016 to 2019.

For Miller, Scoregenix is just the start of her long-term interest in pursuing computer science and coding. Although her application isn’t ready for general use in a downloadable format, Miller is looking ahead to new ideas.

“My next goal is to create another app,” Miller said. “I thought about taking Scoregenix and really developing it into a downloadable app, but right now I want to just keep creating. 

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