“Vultures of Emma Willard” Wins Congressional App Award

Luke Meyers
A custom website created in collaboration between Emma Willard students Dia K. ’24 and Robyn W. ’24 has won first place in the 2022 Congressional App Award contest.
The “Vultures of Emma Willard” site details the iconic avian residents of Mount Ida through research and layout by Dia. K and code and design by Robyn W. The project was completed last year as part of Emma Willard’s STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering Art, and Math) program for 10th graders.

The news was announced yesterday as part of a surprise visit to campus by U.S. House of Representative Paul Tonko from New York’s 20th District. Congressman Tonko toured campus and made an impromptu visit to instructor John Ball’s advanced studies physics class, where Robyn W. was surprised to learn he had won for his video submission of the site.
“I am always amazed by the talent and creativity of our Capital Region’s students, and this year’s submissions for the Congressional App Challenge put that ingenuity on full display,” Congressman Tonko said during his visit. “The Vultures of Emma app demonstrated both impressive coding skills and an admirable motivation to learn more and to educate others about the history of Emma Willard’s campus and its surrounding natural environment.”
Praising Emma Willard School for its role in preparing future leaders, the Congressman emphasized the ongoing importance of technological innovation in education and its increasingly vital role in the long-term vitality of the regional and national economy.

“I am honored to have received this award! Being recognized means a lot to me, and I am so grateful to have worked with Dia on this inspiring project. This opportunity not only allowed me to explore my passion for computer science, but also challenged me to grow my coding abilities. I look forward to continuing to build on the website and improving my skills.” ~ Robyn W. '24

“I am so proud of the work and effort we put into this project and am thankful for Robyn’s help in creating a professional website for my research. Working on a project that stemmed from my passion for ornithology was an amazing experience that allowed me to share my love of birds and gain new skills such as logo and web design. I never imagined this website would become so popular and spread beyond the Emma community. I can’t wait to see where Vultures of Emma will take us next!” ~ Dia K. '24
In addition to Congressman Tonko, members of the Emma Willard and local community joined together to recognize the winning project, including Head of School Jenny Rao, Science Instructor and Director of Experiential Learning Jon Calos,  Computer Science Instructor Chiara Shah, Class of 2024 Dean Caroline Boyajian, Associate Head of School Meredith Legg, Robyn’s parents Drs. Meng and Yan Wu, and Dr. Mohammed J. Zaki, professor and department head of Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a judge of the contest.

“This award perfectly reflects what Emma Willard is all about: creativity and collaboration,” said Jenny Rao. “I am so proud of our students for their contributions today—and every day—in these crucial areas of computer science and technology!”
To learn more about the Congressional App Challenge, visit the official competition website. To learn more about the “Vultures at Emma Willard” site, read more on our blog or visit the website directly at vulturesofemma.org.
The home page of the vulturesofemma.org website

The home page of the vulturesofemma.org website