(TNS) -- U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, is accepting entries for the 2015 Congressional App Challenge, a Congressional initiative to improve student engagement in coding and computer science.

Apps are mostly used on smartphones or mobile devices and are useful for everything from finding recipes to keeping current on the news to checking on a fantasy football team.

Press Secretary Tim Murtagh said Barletta understands the importance of apps and uses them himself.

“He uses them to check the weather, keep up on the news, check his Facebook and keep up on sports,” said Murtagh.

The contest, he said, is consistent with the STEM curriculum model, which is based on education in focuses on four areas: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The model emphasizes a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world application.

Coding, underlying the creation of apps, is commonly known as computer programming. Simply put, code is written in various languages of abbreviations and arranged characters to provide instructions to the computer to perform specific functions.

The contest is sponsored by the Internet Education Foundation and offers students the opportunity to showcase both creativity and programming abilities to a national audience and make contact with potential high-tech employers.

Murtagh said the use of apps has grown with many people, especially young people, using them regularly.

“Nearly everyone is walking around with a smart phone or tablet of some kind, running all sorts of apps for games, entertainment, social media, productivity, health or a thousand other uses,” Barletta said in a press release.

The app of the winning student or team in each participating congressional district will be featured on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website, and displayed in a U.S. Capitol exhibit.

A panel of independent judges will be appointed to evaluate content based on creativity and originality.

“We want to prepare our young people for life with advancing technology,” said Murtagh. “Things that were unheard of 10 years ago are now possible.”

“After all,” Murtagh said, “there is an app for everything.”

©2015 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.