Thursday, March 23, 2017

STEM-In-Action at its Best: Students Turn Ideas into Reality

“I encourage kids to keep dreaming big... Dreams can come true even in a small town.” - Andrea L.

Let's Catch Up!

Team Crabyotics, 2015 White House Science Fair
When it comes to student-focused STEM projects at Taos Middle/High School, ideas seem limitless.

It all started with information shared from a group of Taos students participating in a STEM demonstration during eCYBERMISSION's 2013-2014 National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE). The demonstration mentioned the use of Chitosan as a filtration. The students shared this information back in New Mexico with soon-to-be team Crabyotics—Andrea-Chin Lopez, Julia Johnson, Anthony Archuleta, and James Valerio.

This shared-information soon became a bio-filter system community project, which competed in local science fairs, competitions, and of course eCYBERMISSION, which resulted in the team's STEM-In-Action Grant.

During the 2013-2014 eCYBERMISSION competition, Team Advisor (TA) Laura Tenorio and her team “Crabyotics,” located in New Mexico, developed a bio-filter system that successfully removes antibiotic drugs from drinking water, thus helping to stem the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

“To this day, if you ask any of them, they still don’t believe it really happened,” said Team Advisor Laura Tenorio. “They are convinced that it was just a dream.”

Three Steps to Turn Your Idea into Reality!

Taos is considered a rural area with access to limited resources for major scientific efforts. But at the Middle School’s science lab, commonly referred to as the “The Tyger Lab,” Anthony and Andrea came together with their fellow 9th grade team members James and Julia to research all that was needed to produce Chitosan and then produce a filter.

Crabyotics in "The Tyger Lab"
  1. In July of 2013, team Crabyotics began to work on their IDEA of making a filter against antibiotics.
  2. It was then that they DETERMINED that not only could it chemically work in theory, but that this filtration method could also be cost effective.
  3. This was when they began to think of a business plan, which the group CREATED after their research revealed their filter had potential for a patent. 

Andrea and TA Laura Tenorio worked together to smooth out the business plan the team started creating. The teams’ main goal was to turn an idea into reality and incorporate into the community.

“eCYBERMISSION completely changed the entire focus of the project, along with the STEM-In-Action Grant,” said Andrea… “Thanks to the grant and our Team Advisor, the project and our futures were invested and encouraged.”

Of the original STEM-In-Action Grant proposal, the only part that has not been implemented is the Middle School and Community implementation. Actions are currently underway to determine a mass identification of water contaminants. The patent application is ongoing and being modified and FDA and EPA approval of the filter use will not go into action until further testing has been completed.

What Now?

Graduating Seniors: Fast forward to this school year! The team members of Crabyotics are now high school seniors, planning bright futures in STEM and medical fields. 

Managing the STEM-In-Action Grant: Anthony, James, and Julia have gone in separate directions from the project, while Andrea has maintained work on the grant. Andrea recruited two eCYBERMISSION AlumniArasely Rodriguez (The Wyrmies- 2013 NJ&EE) and Will Song (1st Place State, 2015)to continue year three of the business plan and experimentation.  Currently:

Ø  Andrea, Arasely, and Will are working on the final phase of Crabyotics, named “Crabsorption,” which will focus on laboratory honed chitosan as an absorption media for pharmaceuticals from water sources and from the human body.

Ø  Dual patent are in the works, both with Crabyotics original purpose, and with Crabsorption.
Ø  Andrea and Mentor/TA Laura Tenorio have continued to gather more sponsors to support the implementation of the idea. (i.e. attract interest of ISEF, enter the Science Talent Search, and plans to compete in BioGenius and AEOP’s Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS).

New/Upcoming Tests: They tested a wide variety of antibiotics against chitosan cooked for varying times, and focused on a filter design that could resist water pressures with potential use in a universal setting.

In the Community: Not only does Andrea assist with Taos Middle/High School teams competing in eCYBERMISSION, she encourages students with little interest or knowledge in STEM to join eCYBERMISSION. Her experiences are then shared with younger age groups in the community. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

An App in Motion: Full STEM Ahead!

eCYBERMISSION's STEM-in-Action Grant program provides an opportunity for up to five student teams each year to receive a grant up to $5,000. Teams that receive this U.S. Army funded grant have an additional year to further implement their Mission Folder projects submitted for the competition.

Team Rocky Run—2015-16 STEM-in-Action Grant recipients from Chantilly, VA—created a device using a Raspberry Pi microcomputer to detect dangerous stove top temperature levels that will alert the homeowner. This was to address a tragedy in their community in which their house had burned down due to a stove fire. 

Sharing Information through Community Outreach 

  • Rocky Run has successfully reached out to community leaders, including their local Centreville Fire Department.
  • The team was able to present their device to the department and receive feedback from the fire chief.
  • Students also, they stood outside the local public library and demonstrated the device (name of device)  in a public seminar.

“We received a good amount of feedback, including things such as alerting a home protection agency, as well as creating a way to use the device in more versatile locations, such as the attic or backyard.”

Taking it to the Next Level!

As part of Rocky Run’s overall plan to further implement their project, the team made a program for a mobile app using Android Studio 2.2.2. The app provides user name and password fields for security purposes, enables the user to select the temperature at which the device will be triggered via the Apache client server, and enables the user to set a time period for which this temperature should be held for the device to be triggered.

Stay tuned as we continue to highlight other 2015-2016 STEM-in-Action Grant teams that are creating program success with their additional award money.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Little Inspiration Comes Full-Circle

Meet Keaton Thomas, former eCYBERMISSION participant and student of veteran Team Advisor Laura Wilbanks.

Keaton was a part of the Whiteface Science Rocks U School's:
2005 Nat'l Winning 6th grade team           “Scienteers”
       --> 2006 Nat'l Winning 7th grade team         “VROOOM!”
       --> 2007 Nat'l Finalist 8th grade team           “Saving Wetlands”
       --> 2008 Nat'l Finalist 9th grade team           “VideoGaming”

If that isn't cool enough, Keaton is registered as a Team Advisor to three students from Science Rocks U School for the 2016-2017 eCYBERMISSION competition.

Keaton, now 24 years old, was greatly influenced by eCYBERMISSION and STEM, which has also led to a career in agriculture. Indeed, this is an inspirational full-circle moment!