WASHINGTON -- The eCYBERMISSION program, a celebration of the U.S. Army’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics education outreach efforts, bestowed national honors to 59 middle-school students here June 24.

The week-long National Judging and Educational Event was an eye-opening experience for the students, their team advisers and parents and siblings who made the trip to the nation’s capital. They visited Washington landmarks, talked with Congressional representatives and touched the latest technology being developed and fielded for the U.S. military.

Judges at the national finals had the unenviable and difficult task of selecting one team from each grade (six to nine) as the national winner. Each winning team member received $8,000 in Series EE Savings Bonds. The Army awarded more than $1 million in savings bonds this year to recognize students nationwide at the local and state level for their dedication to STEM education and for their unique approaches to use scientific inquiry to solve a problem affecting their communities.

National Winning Teams

Sixth Grade - “Team Genius” from West Woods Elementary School, Hamden, Conn.; Team Adviser Kavita Saxena with students Allison Barone, Vivake Kumar, Alok Murthy and Thomas Peters. “Team Genius” studied phantom leaks in electricity that occur when an electronic device is left plugged in when not in use. They created a cell phone charger that emits a buzzing noise when chargers are plugged in but not connected to a cell phone.

Seventh Grade - “Surf City Smartbikes” from Mesa View Middle School, Huntington Beach, Calif.; Team Adviser Kathy Pirkle with students Zachary Goodale, Grant Gochman, Huongly Do and Bijan Afghani. The “Surf City Smartbikes” constructed a safety feature for bicycles in which a device produces visual and audible aids until the rider buckles their helmet.

Eighth Grade - “The POD People” from Fern Ridge Middle School; Veneta, Ore.; Team Adviser Scottie Barnes with students Tucker Barnes, Tristan Cornelius and Connor Magid. “The POD People” researched the use of Stirling engines as an alternate source of fuel, studying how a design built around its premise can be used to power homes.

Ninth Grade - “HUGE” from Roslyn High School; Roslyn Heights, N.Y.; Team Adviser Allyson Weseley with students Anvit Kalra-Lall, Ross Kaplan and Andrew Penner. “HUGE” researched how to capture kinetic energy generated by walking. They created wearable devices that could be fastened to a shoe to capture and store energy.

The national awards dinner was a “Who’s Who?” of military science and technology. Heading the list was Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, a retired four-star general who was Army chief of staff when the eCYBERMISSION program began.

“These are the children of destiny,” Shinseki said of eCYBERMISSION participants when the Army kicked off the program in 2002.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, was host of the evening’s festivities. He warmly welcomed military leadership in attendance, including Zachary Lemnios, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Dr. Scott Fish, the Army’s chief scientist; Dr. Michelle Freeman, director of U.S. Army research and engineering; and Heidi Shyu, the acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology who delivered the evening’s keynote address.

“On behalf of the Army, I congratulate the teams for their demonstrated knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and using research and experimentation to identify a solution to a community problem,” Justice said.

“In today’s world, it is imperative that we teach our students the importance of these subjects and encourage an interest in related careers. We are proud of the students who rose to the challenge and look forward to watching them become the leaders of tomorrow,” he added.

New this year, the Army presented a special Army Values Award to the “DR.MED” team from NEISD STEM Academy in San Antonio for exemplifying Army Values (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage) throughout NJⅇ. RDECOM noncommissioned officers. who mentored the students during the week, chose the winning team.

“This team displayed teamwork and goodwill, not only for each other, but to every team in the competition,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, RDECOM senior enlisted adviser, as he presented the award.

This year, 12,251 students took part in the eCYBERMISSION program, participating on one of 3,197 teams from 416 schools in 54 states and territories.

The year-long program is open to American middle-school students and begins anew when the 2011-12 school year begins in August. Next year will be the program’s 10th anniversary.