By Jesse Wood
A team of three eighth graders from Avery County are heading to Washington, D.C., in a couple weeks to receive a $5,000 grant from the U.S. Army for designing a quadcopter to find lost hikers in the Linville Gorge and beyond.
In addition to being special guests at the nation’s capitol for the eCybermission National Finals, the students also won $6,000 ($2,000 each) for taking first place in a state competition for eighth graders.
With the $5,000 STEM-in-Action grant, Suzy Clark of Avery Middle School, C.J. Clark and Nathaniel Hardy, both of whom are homeschooled, will work with Linville Search and Rescue to “refine their plans for the SPOT-R (Seeking People Over Terrain Remotely quadcopter) prototype and to test it, based on the digital rendering,” according to Jessica Hahn, who works for a public relations firm publicizing the competition.
The grant is part of the U.S. Army’s 13th annual eCybermission competition. The National Science Teachers Association administers the competition that challenges students to identify real-world problems in their local communities and create solutions using science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), according to a release.
The students will be in Washington, D.C., June 15-19.
Out of 60 regional finalists, 20 teams were selected by the U.S. Army as national finalists in the competition by a panel of judges consisting of U.S. Army scientists and engineers, educators, and STEM professionals
“The U.S. Army is constantly amazed at the level of talent these winning teams possess during the eCYBERMISSION competition,” said Louie R. Lopez, Program Manager for eCYBERMISSION. “We want to continue doing our part in encouraging students to excel in STEM. Congratulations to all regional winners and I look forward to meeting each team at the National Judging and Educational Event.”
According to a release, national finalists focused their projects on one of seven mission challenges that affect their community, including alternative sources of energy; the environment; food; health and fitness; force and motion; national security and safety; and robotics.
“We are incredibly proud of all the projects that came through this year,” said Dr. Juliana Texley, NSTA President. “The national finalists were incredibly inventive and thoughtful. We applaud the students on their projects – the quality and ingenuity of their work is phenomenal.”
A call to Linville-Central Rescue Squad went unanswered as of press time.