Picatinny Arsenal supports STEM eCYBERMISSION Challenge
Student Virtual Judges provide timely feedback, comments, and scores on 5 student Mission Folders during eCYBERMISSION Virtual Judging. Through offering feedback on student submissions, Student Virtual Judges are able to encourage middle school students to continue on the path towards a STEM career, supporting innovation, creativity, and excellence in education. (Photo Credit: www.ecybermission.com) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (AC) recently recruited more than 35 engineers and scientists to support the 2020-2021 Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) eCYBERMISSION Challenge.

eCYBERMISSION is a web-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competition for students in grades six through nine that promotes self-discovery and enables all students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM. Teams of students are asked to construct experiments (for science) or design solutions (for engineering) based on identified problems in their community. They submit their project and it is virtually assessed by volunteers on criteria such as application of scientific method, team collaboration, and benefit to the community.

Picatinny Arsenal has been supporting eCYBERMISSION for almost 20 years. Volunteers have promoted STEM education to students all over the United States. Each volunteer virtually engages the students with direct feedback on how to enhance their experiment or their solution’s impact to the community. Virtual judging occurs over a self-paced two week period, and because of this flexibility of schedule, many judges return year after year.

Long time volunteer, and first year STEM-In-Action Judge, Jeffrey Smyth noted, “Serving as a virtual judge, and this year as a STEM-in-Action Judge, is something I look forward to. From a judging standpoint, it amazes me how smart these students are, and I usually learn something new in my attempts to understand and evaluate their project. From a personal standpoint, it’s always good for me to be refreshed on the tried and true methods of the scientific process or also engineering development that these students are learning about and employing in their project.”

Several new AC volunteer recruits said they enjoyed their first time judging and were looking forward to future engagements.

Shannon Turner, QE&SA systems safety engineer and AC volunteer recruit, said, “It was an amazing experience seeing the creative ideas that young students have to address scientific and engineering problems in their communities – they were very impressive and it gives me great excitement for the future of STEM. I am looking forward to interacting with the students even more in the upcoming months as a mentor for nationals. I am hoping to be able to inspire them to continue down a STEM path, and I am expecting they will inspire me as well.”

Steve Akdemir, another QE&SA systems safety engineer and AC volunteer recruit added, “Being able to connect with younger students who are interested in STEM is so refreshing. It is a great reminder that a STEM environment does not always need to be about dauntingly complex math and fancy terminology. Being able to encourage and remind these students that they are on the right path to becoming a great scientist or engineer is a task I am happy to take, having been one of these aspiring students myself. I’m excited to meet with the students in the national competition as a mentor.”

The top three projects from each grade with the highest score from each region moved onto regional judging, and the winners of each regional contest will move onto then national competition to be held in June. Virtual Judging was March 16-31 and Regional Judging was April 26-30. National Judging is scheduled for June 20-25. Regional finalists are also eligible to apply for the STEM-In-Action grant to implement their eCYBERMISSION project solutions in their community. These awards are up to $5,000, and are independent of the selection of eCYBERMISSION national finalists.

At each level, the students compete for awards, accumulating up to $8,000 in savings bonds for national winners. AC’s continued support at all levels of this competition helps to answer the Nation’s need for increased national STEM literacy and expand STEM education opportunities across the country to open doors to new career paths for American students that lead to a brighter tomorrow.

For more information, visit ecybermission.com or contact Tiffany Mills at tiffany.m.mills.civ@mail.mil.