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Monday, May 18, 2015

West Middle School 7th Graders are National Finalists in the 13th Annual eCYBERMISSION Competition

The following is a Press Release from the ARMY EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM

[MA] – Thursday, May 7, 2015 – The U.S. Army today announced “THE JAYS”, a 7th grade team of students from West Middle School, as a national finalist team in the 13th annual eCYBERMISSION competition – one of several science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives offered by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP). The group members are Yasmin Gulbas, Jolene Pern, Armaan Vasowalla, and Sebastian Zhu. Sponsored by the U.S. Army and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), eCYBERMISSION, is a web-based competition designed to cultivate student interest in STEM by encouraging students in grades six through nine to develop solutions to real-world problems in their local communities.

THE JAYS” along with 19 other national finalists were chosen as a regional first-place winner and will now head to the National Judging and Educational Event (NJ&EE). A panel of judges consisting of U.S. Army scientists and engineers, educators, and STEM professionals selected “THE JAYS” based on criteria including innovative ideas and a questioning and answering session with the judges. As a national finalist, each team member will receive a $2,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond and an all-expenses paid trip to NJ&EE in Maryland to compete for the first-place national award in their grade.

“The U.S. Army is constantly amazed at the level of talent these winning teams possess during the eCYBERMISSION competition,” said Louie R. Lopez, Program Manager for eCYBERMISSION. “We want to continue doing our part in encouraging students to excel in STEM. Congratulations to all regional winners and I look forward to meeting each team at the National Judging and Educational Event.”

After selecting their mission challenge, “THE JAYS”—under the guidance of their team advisor Kelly McDonald, a 7th grade science teacher at West Middle School —applied the engineering design process to propose a solution. “THE JAYS” then submitted a mission folder, the official write-up of their project, via the eCYBERMISSION website.

“THE JAYS” project focused on helping to save the Kemp Ridley turtles, and endangered sea turtle, that beach themselves on Cape Cod Bay each fall.  They designed a carrier for the turtle that protects them as well as insulates them using a radiant barrier to maintain the turtles’ current body temperature until it can be brought to the New England Aquarium Rescue Center in Quincy, MA.

“We are incredibly proud of all the projects that came through this year,” said Dr. Juliana Texley, NSTA President. “The national finalists were incredibly inventive and thoughtful. We applaud the students on their projects – the quality and ingenuity of their work is phenomenal.”

The NJ&EE is a week-long event—June 15-19, 2015— that focuses on educational opportunities and team building exercises. This year’s event features a STEM Challenge, where students will participate in STEM demonstrations and hands-on activities. In addition to the national awards, the AEOP is funding $5,000 STEM-in-Action grants to selected eCYBERMISSION national finalist teams to implement solutions in their local communities based on the results of their projects. A grant will be awarded to five teams across all grade levels in the competition.
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