One of the most frequent questions we receive is “How do I find opportunities for STEM outside of the class day?” The national eCYBERMISSION program can be a great answer. The program’s open for student teams now, but the deadline is approaching. For a quick overview, we reached out to Kathleen Kelly, Project Manager for eCYBERMISSION at the National Science Teachers Association. Read our chat below. To hear about the program from a student’s eye, read our July interview with Ashton Cofer, a student at Gahanna Middle School East. eCYBERMISSION is supported by the Army Education Outreach Program.
What’s the eCybermission experience?
In the eCYBERMISSION competition, 6th-9th grade students work in teams of three or four with a Team Advisor using science or engineering to propose a solution to problem in their community. This annual web-based competition provides the opportunity for thousands of students across the country and around the world to compete for state, regional and national awards. eCYBERMISSION participants realize benefits across the board. As one of last year’s students noted “We have learned a lot about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But, more important, we learned that we can take our invention to the next level, and how a small idea can lead to something much greater.”
How do you keep students interested in the program?
It’s a combination of using online tools, working in a team, interacting online with our CyberGuides (scientist and engineer mentors) and getting the opportunity to make a difference in their own community through authentic STEM explorations. Plus the spirit of competition and potential to win up to $9,000 for each team member helps!
Is there anything especially exciting about the program this year?
eCYBERMISSION is celebrating its 15th year of engaging students in STEM explorations in their community. We’re excited about some of the trends we’re seeing. For example, it’s a nearly 50-50 split between girls and boys who participate. And, there has been an uptick in the percentage of teams selecting engineering design as their method. We believe this relates to the rollout of Next Generation Science Standards and indicates that schools are using eCYBERMISSION as a tool to address the standards with their students.
We’re also excited about the growth of our STEM-In-Action grant program. All teams that make it to the Regional Finals, have the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 to take their solution to the next level. Teams have used this money in the past to enhance their prototypes, put their proposed solutions into action in their communities and even to apply for a patent. Here is a recent blog post about the current STEM-In-Action award winners: https://ecybermission.blogspot.com/2016/10/a-look-at-stem-in-action-grant-teamsin.html .
eCM dates of note:
Early-bird registration deadline is coming up – Nov. 2, 2016
Students who are registered and placed on complete teams by then will receive a free STEM kits with research tools to help them do their Mission Folders.
Team Advisor and students registration deadline – Dec. 7, 2016
Final day to submit Mission Folders – Feb. 22, 2017 T 11:59 PM ET