Three Gahanna Middle School East students have won a national contest as a sixth-grade team in the 12th annual eCybermission competition June 16-20 in Washington, D.C.
Julie Bray, Luke Clay and Ashton Cofer won in their division for the design of an earthquake-resistant house.
The Web-based science, technology, engineering and math program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Army and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, encourages students in grades 6-9 to develop solutions to real-world challenges in their communities.
Following the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, Cofer said, the team wanted to find a solution to the poorly built buildings in Haiti.
"The problem was building structure," he said. "The material we used for our structure was bamboo. It's very strong."
He said bamboo can be grown locally in Haiti, so that makes it affordable.
Cofer said he thought the team fared well during the judging.
"We were hoping for the win," he said. "We were really surprised when we won. There were a lot of good teams there. We presented in front of eight to 10 judges; then there was a question-and-answer session with each team."
He said the win has inspired him and the team to press on with other competitions.
"It was a great competition," Bray said. "I learned a lot more about STEM and the Army. As far as winning, there's nothing that compares to having your name called and receiving a medal. I think all the teams had a good chance of winning. I'm happy that we won."
Clay said the win caught him by surprise.
"There were great teams there with good projects," he said. "I felt we did pretty good in judging. I was still shocked when they called our names to go on stage."
Clay said he made many new friends from all over the United States.
"We will probably enter some other STEM competitions next year, including eCybermission," he said.
In addition to competing, Clay said, the team enjoyed one day of visiting monuments in Washington.
Each member of the four national winning teams received $5,000 in U.S. E.E. savings bonds (matured value), in addition to the $1,000 awarded to them as state winners and $2,000 as regional first-place winners.
The winning teams were chosen from among 20 finalist teams, which were selected from more than 4,400 teams that entered the free competition this year.
Since the program's inception in 2002, eCybermission has awarded state, regional and national competition winners with more than $8 million in U.S. savings bonds.
"One of the most important aspects of eCybermission is its emphasis on teamwork and the collaborative process to accomplish a mission and achieve results," said Mary Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. "These capabilities are fundamental to an effective military, as well as many American industries, and we want to foster their development in our next generation."