Three young Oak Harbor scientists were recently honored for their scientific analysis of local pollution.
The U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program announced last week that the sixth-grade team of Natalie Ballard, Danelle Hays and Anissa Randolph took first place as the Washington state winner of the 15th annual eCYBERMISSION competition.
The Oak Harbor Middle School students got more than just recognition for the achievement. Each girl will receive $1,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds.
The team also has a shot at moving on to the national competition.
The eCYBERMISSION competition, administered by the National Science Teachers Association, promotes self-discovery and enables students to recognize the real-life applications of science, math, technology and mathematics, or STEM.
The competition challenges students in grades six through nine to develop solutions to real-world problems in their local communities.
Ballard, Hays and Randolph studied the effects that pollution in the environment has on plant life.
Alan Bailey, science teacher and team advisor, explained that the girls first researched the topic and possible solutions.
They decided the best way to address the problem was to identify known pollutant factors and test some of them to see how they affected plant life and plant growth.
“They developed their own scientific protocols and standards for these experiments,” he said in an email, adding that his role was to provide time and space for the experiments and answer a question here and there.
The girls finalized the project by writing about their process and the results of that process, then submitting their findings to the national judges.
“My hope is that they are able to use that excitement as motivation to continue as researchers and scientists,” he said. “They are outstanding young scholars and people.”
In the next round of the competition, a panel of judges will evaluate the top three scores from each region in each grade level.
Sixty regional finalist teams will compete to advance as one of 20 national finalists, moving on to compete at the National Judging &Educational Event June 26-30 in Washington, D.C., according to a press release.
The eCYBERMISSION competition is a web-based STEM competition that promotes self-discovery and enables all students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM.
Teams of three or four students are instructed to ask questions (for science) or define problems (for engineering), and then construct explanations (for science) or design solutions (for engineering) based on identified problems in their community.
“The United States Army has long recognized that a scientifically and technologically literate citizenry is our nation’s best hope for a secure, rewarding and successful future,” the press release states.
“For over 50 years, the Army has supported a wide range of educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for our youth, college and graduate students, as well as our valued teachers,” the press release states.