WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama met with America's top youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education Monday at the White House.

Three Army-sponsored students from the Mirman School in Los Angeles presented their award-winning eCYBERMISSION project to the president at the White House Science Fair.

The team, known as the Hardheads, was one of approximately 35 teams from across the nation invited to attend the fair, held in the White House State Dining Room.

President Obama welcomed the winners from a broad range of high school and middle school STEM competitions to the White House, where he viewed their projects and talked to them about their work.

Seventh grade students Jonathan Berman, Benjamin Kotzubei and Austin Veseliza presented their award-winning eCYBERMISSION project at the event and answered questions from President Obama.

In June 2010, the team, led by Team Advisor Deborah Beckmann-Kotzubei, was named the eCYBERMISSION sixth grade national first place team at the National Judging and Educational Event, held in Baltimore.

eCYBERMISSION judges recognized the students for their innovative and creative approach to using STEM to solve a problem in their community. As a national first-place winning team, the students were awarded a total of $24,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds.

The eCYBERMISSION program, sponsored by the U.S. Army and managed by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is a free, web-based, STEM competition for students in grades six through nine. Students identify a problem in their community, as it relates to one of nine pre-determined Mission Challenges, or topics.

Students use the scientific method to research the problem, hypothesize solutions, conduct experiments to test their hypotheses and draw conclusions from the data they collect to propose a potential solution to that problem.

The eCYBERMISSION "Hardheads" team conducted inventive experiments on multiple materials for possible use in sports helmets, with the hope of finding a material that decreases the prevalence of concussions and other head injuries.

The team tested foam, neoprene rubber and gel rubber to identify a material that could yield a safer, form-fitting helmet that is more effective than the foam-insulated helmets currently in use. The students determined that gel rubber was far more shock absorbent than foam. The students contacted several helmet manufacturing companies to discuss the possibility of replacing the current foam-insulated helmets and requesting that they explore the viable alternative.

The eCYBERMISSION competition encourages and rewards students from a diverse range of proficiency levels, interests and backgrounds, while teaching students that team work, innovation, creativity and the real-life applications of STEM education can have a positive impact on their communities, and their future.

Students on winning teams can win up to $8,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds and the first-place team in each grade and region wins an all-expenses-paid trip to the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area.

Since 2002, more than 71,000 students from across the nation and in Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools have participated in eCYBERMISSION, and the U.S. Army has awarded over $8.6 million in U.S. EE Savings Bonds in support of the STEM leaders of tomorrow.

The White House Science Fair kicked off a week that culminates with the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall and in 50 satellite locations, poised to engage more than one million people nationwide.

The White House Science Fair fulfilled a commitment President Obama made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign in November 2009. That campaign aims to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade and recognize student accomplishments in STEM with the same fervor afforded professional athletes.

Army officials are encourageing youth to be the next eCYBERMISSION team to make a difference in their community and have a positive impact on the future of our students and nation by registering for the 2010-2011 eCYBERMISSION competition. Registration is open now through Dec. 17, 2010 for all interested sixth through ninth graders, nationwide.

For information on the eCYBERMISSION competition, the 2010 national winning team, the Hardheads, or to register for this year's competition, visit the eCYBERMISSION website or contact 1-866-GO-CYBER (462-9237).