Learning the ‘Fin-damentals’ of fish? There’s an app for that


Two Skyview High School students thought up a fishy idea when they heard about the 2018 Congressional App Challenge. 

Seventeen-year-olds Annika Epperly from Battle Ground and Ojasvi Kamboj from Vancouver worked together to design an app called “Fin-damentals of Fish Care” in hopes of reducing neglect by educating people on the proper care for fish. 

Epperly and Kamboj’s creation was highly regarded by judges and they went on to take the top prize, awarded by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler Feb. 20 at Columbia Springs in Vancouver. The judges are local technology professionals and STEM educators, appointed by Herrera Beutler. 

The Congressional App Challenge was started in 2015 by the U.S. House of Representatives in an effort to reward creativity in the field of computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Contests are held within each congressional district among middle school and high school students. 

When brainstorming ideas, Epperly and Kamboj found they were both passionate about animals being well taken care of.

“We shared what causes we cared about and found that animal welfare and educating children was something we had in common,”  Epperly said.  

From there, the girls decided to base their app around goldfish, a popular first pet for many children. The targeted audience for Fin-damentals of Fish Care are children between the ages of five and 12, to be sure that the child is taking proper care of their fish. The app includes reminders to feed your fish, advises how often to clean the tank, a symptom checker to diagnose illness, and a fun coloring page to keep children engaged. 

To keep the app child-friendly, Epperly and Kamboj did not include strident descriptions for diseases. When it comes to the death of a pet, they decided to leave it up to the parents to explain what has happened. 

The app was designed with MIT App Inventor 2 and includes all original artwork. 

“My favorite part of designing the app was the artwork, I really enjoyed making the fish on the main screen,” Epperly said.    

“I really enjoyed the coding,” Kamboj added, “I genuinely really like computer science. It was really fun for me.” 

For future improvements, Epperly and Kamboj want to add more coloring pages to keep the app fun. They also want to improve the symptom checking capabilities by adding more diseases to the list. Improving the sequence of symptoms selected so disease identification is less rigid is something they also plan to do.

Epperly and Kamboj hope to make the app available on Google Play for fish owning children to download on their tablet or phone in the near future.