The AEOP Journey Towards a Future in STEM
The STEM education movement is on the rise, but finding a wide variety of STEM opportunities can be challenging, let alone finding them all in one place. Through AEOP STEM opportunities, students from across the country can continue their education in STEM fields. Many students transition from the eCYBERMISSION program into the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS) once they get to high school, and continue their goals toward a future career in STEM by seizing opportunities for grants, scholarships and apprenticeships.
Siona Beaudoin, from Michigan, began her AEOP journey with eCYBERMISSION in seventh grade, after her mother went to a Society of Women in Engineering (SWE) conference and found out about the program. With her mother acting as her advisor, she organized a group of friends who shared a common interest in STEM and formed an eCYBERMISSION team. For the next three years, she continued to participate each year submitting three different projects on topics such as electroplating copper and growing plants in mining waste product. “At my school, there were no science competitions or clubs, so myself, along with what ended up being my teammates, decided to try out eCYBERMISSION and ended up having a lot of fun,” Beaudoin said of her experience. “I learned a lot of science I didn’t know before and learned how to better work in a team.”
Siona and her team, Whiz Kids, at eCYBERMISSION’s National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE)
After a great experience participating in eCYBERMISSION, and some grant money and prizes to boot, Beaudoin chose to continue her AEOP journey. She decided to participate and compete in the (JSHS) program. The ability to choose from a wide variety of categories and make her next project anything she wanted to be was a huge appeal to take this next step. JSHS is an opportunity for high school students to compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their solo STEM projects before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. It’s composed of 48 nationwide university campuses and serves students in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the DoD Dependent Schools, Europe and Pacific.
Going into JSHS all on her own this time instead of with a team, she decided her project would be to see if the effects of simulated nitrogen deposition would continue if nitrogen deposition ended. She collected her data with the help of an undergraduate student and a mentor.
Siona collecting litter samples from the plots where she conducted her projects.
After months of hard work, she presented at the Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula of Michigan Regional Competition and placed third overall, winning $1,000 towards a scholarship for college, as well as qualifying her to present her project poster at the JSHS National Symposium this April. When asked how she feels about being given the chance to go to Nationals, Beaudoin commented, “I am very excited to have the opportunity to go to New Mexico to compete and present my research. I look forward to seeing what projects other people have conducted, as well as meeting new people.”
Siona winning 3rd place at the Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula of Michigan Regional JSHS Competition
As she prepares for this next chapter in her AEOP journey, we asked her, “What does STEM mean to you? And do you see a future career in STEM?” She spoke of how she really enjoys science and technology, especially when curating websites and graphic design, passions of hers. She sees herself becoming a graphic designer and technical writer, combining her two favorite things: art and science. “I have learned so much through these AEOP competitions. The lesson that was most important to me was probably how to present my findings. I have greatly improved in my ability to present, and to answer questions."
The whole team at eCYBERMISSION is wishing Beaudoin good luck as she heads to the JSHS National Symposium. We continue to be a part of the STEM education movement and are always proud to hear about AEOP Alumni pursuing STEM education and hopefully STEM careers.
The U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) aims to provide students and teachers a collaborative, cohesive, portfolio of Army-sponsored STEM programs that effectively engage, inspire, and attract the next generation of STEM talent. Programs offered by AEOP include summer enrichment opportunities at Army Labs, STEM Competitions, Apprenticeships and Scholarships. These programs begin in first grade and progress through undergraduate and graduate studies.