Four sixth graders from West Branch Middle School in West Branch, Iowa, received a first-place award in this year’s national eCYBERMISSION competition. With this award, each team member will receive a $3,000.00 U.S. EE Savings Bond, a certificate of recognition from the U.S. Army and a free trip to the National Judging and Education Event (NJ&EE) in Baltimore, Md., in June to present their final project.
The “Notifiers” team, comprised of students Linzee Espensen, Taylor Jones, Emma O’Hara and Corinda Wolfram, and led by Team Advisor Hector Ibarra, was recognized by judges for their ability to raise awareness on the importance of proper hand washing and sanitation through experimentation and promotion.
The team estimated that 33 percent of people do not properly wash their hands, which can lead to illness not only for themselves, but among friends, family, teachers and other members of the community as well. The team hypothesized that if they could raise awareness among their peers on proper hand washing and sanitizing techniques, fewer germs would be transferred among students.
The team took a number of steps to prove their hypothesis. First, they posted posters around the school and conducted surveys among the students at their school to collect information on their sanitizing techniques and measure their awareness of it after using the bathroom and before eating. Then they gathered data on hand washing techniques by observing students’ in the bathroom, using an Infection Control Professional (ICP) devise from the University of Iowa which uses ultra-violet (UV) light which, when used under a black light, highlights the areas of the hand which were inadequately washed.
Utilizing data provided by the administration, the team compared student absences between October 2009 and February 2010 to determine whether their efforts had an impact on the results. The team noted 14 absences in October, four in November, two in December, four in January and five in February. They had expected to see a significant increase in absences during the months of January and February due to the winter flu season, however they believe the data was in direct correlation to the numerous preventative measures they demonstrated for the students.
For a complete list of the 2009-2010 eCYBERMISSION regional winning teams, click here.