NSTA Partners with the U.S. Army to Manage and Support Web-based STEM Competition for Students

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Monday, August 6th 2012
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The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the United States Army have joined together to promote student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through a comprehensive education initiative. Announced today, NSTA will manage the U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION program, an online collaborative learning competition designed to inspire student interest in STEM by encouraging students in grades six through nine to develop solutions to real-world challenges in their local communities. NSTA will also join the consortium of the Youth Science Cooperative Outreach Agreement (YSCOA), under the lead of Virginia Tech.

“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.”

“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.”

"We are excited to have NSTA join as a partnering organization in the YSCOA," said Donna Augustine, the director of YSCOA at Virginia Tech. "NSTA brings renowned expertise, significant experience, and an extensive network of STEM educators to their new role with eCYBERMISSION. We look forward to the further development and growing impact of eCYBERMISSION under NSTA's lead as well as to the development of new synergies between eCYBERMISSION and the other Army Educational Outreach Programs."

Through the program, teams of three to four students are asked to identify an issue in their community related to one of seven mission challenges, including:

  • alternative sources of energy;
  • the environment; food, health and fitness;
  • force and motion;
  • national security and safety;
  • robotics; and
  • technology.

After selecting a mission challenge, teams—under the guidance of a team advisor—apply the scientific method/inquiry or engineering design process to propose a solution. Each team then submits a mission folder, the official write-up of their project, via the eCYBERMISSION website.

A panel of virtual judges evaluates and scores the mission folders on the basis of several criteria to identify state winning teams. The state winning teams then move on to the regional competition, where they compete with other teams in their grade across the region for an all-expenses paid trip to the National Judging and Educational Event, taking place June 2013. Teams have the opportunity to win state, regional and national awards and the students on the four national winning teams can receive up to $8,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds, valued at maturity.

Registration for the 2012-2013 competition is now open. To participate, students must be U.S. citizens enrolled in sixth through ninth grade at any U.S.-based public, private or home school, or Department of Defense Education Activity or Department of State schools. Team advisors must be a teacher, coach, counselor or leader in a youth group organization and at least 21 years of age.

Contacts

NSTA
Kate Falk, 703-312-9211
kfalk@nsta.org
or
US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command
Louie Lopez, 410-278-9858
Louie.R.Lopez@us.army.mil
or
Youth Science Cooperative Outreach Agreement at Virginia Tech
Dana Cruikshank, 540-315-5971
dcruiksh@vt.edu

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