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NSTA Will Manage Army's eCybermission STEM Competition
- By Mike Hohenbrink
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) will coordinate the eCybermission STEM competition for the United States Army in order to promote student interest in the field through online collaborative learning.
Open to students in grades 6-9, the free eCybermission competition is designed to encourage development of solutions to real-world problems from students' own communities while they compete for recognition and awards at the state, regional, and national levels.
"We need to cultivate and sustain interest in the STEM fields starting at an early age so that our students are better prepared for the technological and innovative knowledge-based economy of the 21st century. eCybermission helps to do that," said Dr. Gerry Wheeler, interim executive director, NSTA. "Through the competition, students are encouraged to be resourceful and to think critically while pursuing real solutions to real-world challenges. We are thrilled to be a partner in promoting high-quality learning opportunities and experiences that foster interest in innovation and build students' knowledge in the STEM disciplines."
As part of the competition, teams of three to four students will be tasked with identifying a problem in their local community that is related to one of seven different mission challenges that include:
- Alternative energy;
- Food, health, and fitness;
- Force and motion;
- National security;
- Robotics; and
Once a team selects its mission, students will work under a team advisor to apply the scientific method or the engineering design process to come up with a solution to their problem. Teams will then submit a mission folder that includes the official write-up of what they have done via the competition Web site.
A panel of judges will identify state winners who will then move on to regional competition for a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to the national judging and educational event, which is set for June 2013.
Judging will be based on:
- Use of the scientific method and inquiry or engineering design process;
- Benefit to the community; and
- Team collaboration.
Students on the four teams who win at the national level will be eligible for "up to $8,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds, valued at maturity," according to information released by NSTA.
Registration is currently open to U.S. citizens in grades 6-9 who are enrolled at any public, private, or home school based in the U.S., or at Department of Defense Education Activity or Department of State schools. Teams must have advisers who can be a teacher, counselor, coach, or youth group leader who is 21 years of age or older.
"Our nation relies more and more on advances in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to solve real-world problems and ensure our national security, so the Army is investing today in the leaders of tomorrow," said Mr. Dale Ormond, the director of the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM). "We encourage students to take an active role in their STEM education, and we hope they will continue to find that eCybermission is a fun and effective way to do that."
In addition to managing and supporting the eCybermission competition, the Arlington, VA-based NSTA, a professional organization with membership of 60,000 science educators, administrators, scientists, and business representatives, is also joining the consortium of the Youth Science Cooperative Outreach Agreement (YSCOA), led by Virginia Tech, an effort to promote STEM literacy.
Created through the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), the consortium includes Virginia Tech, the Academy of Applied Science, George Washington University, the Technology Student Association, and the University of New Hampshire.
More information on the competition is available online at ecybermission.com, by telephone at 1-866-GO-CYBER (462-9237), or by sending an email to [email protected].