Perry School Wins State eCYBERMISSION STEM Competition

 

Students are from L to R: Riley Fraser, Elizabeth Bitar, Joshua Guag, Dawson Critchley.

The U.S. Army announced  the Perry Wigglers from Perry, Maine is a state winner 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). eCYBERMISSION, sponsored by the U.S. Army and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), 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 U.S. EE Savings Bonds, valued at maturity.

Seventh grade students Riley Fraser, Elizabeth Bitar, Dawson Critchley, and Joshua Gaug, of The Perry Wigglers,  worked together with team advisor Stephanie Allard to address the problem of food waste in their school cafeteria.  The team  instituted a school-wide composting program that turned cafeteria  leftovers into nutrient rich soil with the help of red wiggler worms, a method known as vermiclture.   The team designed  a controlled experiment that demonstrated that vegetables grown in soil enriched with worm castings had over a 50% greater biomass than those grown in regular greenhouse soil.  Soil generated in the project is being used this spring in the school's greenhouse to grow vegetables that will be served in the cafeteria.  

 Through the eCYBERMISSION website, The Perry Wigglers created a mission folder—the official write-up of their project— which requires students to work through all steps of the scientific method before submitting to be evaluated and scored by a panel of virtual judges. 

“The U.S. Army applauds all the students for challenging themselves to this STEM competition in efforts to improve their communities,” said Louie R. Lopez, Program Manager for eCYBERMISSION. “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,” said Dr. Juliana Texley, NSTA President. “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 15-19, 2015 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.