Teams of students from two southern Ocean County school districts have won national awards for their science-related projects.
The Sun Sensors team of four sixth-graders from the George J. Mitchell Elementary School in Little Egg Harbor Township was the national winner in its grade level at the 10th annual eCYBERMISSION Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army. Students competed at the national event last week in Leesburg, Va.
The winning team of Dylan Breese, Jayden Craft, Brianna Hoegler and Jessie Rising was led by science teacher Patricia Naples. Their project was to test the claimed effectiveness of sunglasses in blocking harmful UV rays.
The Eco Scienteers, a team of four ninth-graders from Pinelands Regional High School, won the national Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, high school division. Teacher Stephen Kubricki and students Jon Kubricki, Bridget Zarych, Mikaela Crowley and Christopher Naples designed and tested presses that turn biowaste into briquettes. The briquettes would be used as an alternative to wood for fuel in underdeveloped countries where forests are being depleted.
Both competitions asked students to use science, technology, engineering and math to address a problem.
Patricia Naples said her team came up with its idea because one student’s mother has to wear sunglasses to prevent headaches. Team members discussed what they could do as an experiment and came up with testing various sunglasses to see if they met their claims of blocking light and UV rays.
They performed three experiments using a UV light source, Vernier UVA and UVB sensors and Logger Pro software and found the lens samples did achieve their goals.
The team won the state and regional competitions, then went up against other regional winners at the national competition in Leesburg. The team members had to present their project to judges and answer questions on their procedures and results.
“I couldn’t even be in the room with them,” Naples said. “They had to do it all themselves.”
The weeklong event also included learning about research the Army is doing, touring Washington and meeting students from other winning teams.
“It was a phenomenal trip,” said Naples, whose team last year was a state winner in the competition.
The Pinelands Regional team’s project included designing, building and testing presses to make the biowaste briquettes. In their presentation, the team noted that the press would have to be inexpensive to build and produce a briquette that was a viable alternative to wood as a cooking fuel.
The team talked to engineering professors at Rowan University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, demonstrated the press at community events during the school year and raised almost $850 toward building and shipping the kits to orphanages in India, Benin, Ghana and Nigeria. The group of freshmen has a four-year implementation plan and will continue the project through high school. The award included a $50,000 college scholarship for the team to share.
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