Appalachian Science Experiment

The US Army this week announced eighth graders of Avery County’s Appalachian Science Experiment as a state winner team in the 13th annual eCYBERMISSION competition — one of several science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives offered by the US Army Educational Outreach Program. eCYBERMISSION, sponsored by the US Army and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, is a web-based STEM competition that is free to students and designed to help build students’ interest and knowledge in STEM. Students in grades six through nine are challenged with developing a solution to a real-world problem in their local community. Students compete on state, regional and national levels for monetary awards, with national winning teams receiving up to $9,000 in US EE Savings Bonds, valued at maturity.

The members of the Appalachian Science Experiment — C.J. Clark, Suzy Clark and Nathaniel Hardy (pictured) — worked together with team advisor Elizabeth Hardy to create the SPOT-R (Seeking People Over Terrain Remotely) Project, a three-part program that includes a custom-built quadcopter for use in search and rescue in our area; an educational program to promote a positive image for search and rescue, especially among children; and a recruitment initiative to help technology-oriented students connect to search and rescue as volunteers who pilot the SPOT-R device. Through the eCYBERMISSION website, the students created a mission folder on SPOT-R — the official write-up of their project — which requires students to work through all steps of the engineering design process before submitting it to be evaluated and scored by a panel of virtual judges.

“The US Army applauds all the students for challenging themselves to this STEM competition in efforts to improve their communities,” Louie R. Lopez, program manager for eCYBERMISSION, said. “Congratulations to all the state winning teams and we encourage students to continue building their interest and knowledge in STEM.”

“We are incredibly proud of all the projects that came through this year. The judges faced no easy task given the caliber of work from these students,” Dr. Juliana Texley, NSTA president, said. “We congratulate the state winners and commend all of the team advisors for engaging and empowering their students to make a real difference in the world around them.”

In the next round of the STEM competition, the regional winners will be determined by a panel of virtual judges who evaluate the top three teams from each region in each grade level. Sixty teams will compete for the honor of moving on to the National Judging and Educational Event (NJ&EE) in June. For the first time ever, all regional finalist teams will receive $1,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds, valued at maturity.

The final winning teams then compete at the national level and receive an all-expenses paid trip to the NJ&EE, taking place June 15 to 19, 2015 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

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