STEM-In-Action Follow-Up: The Marvelous Mosquito Marauders

After months of catching up with our STEM-In-Action grant recipient teams, we have finally reached our final one: The Marvelous Mosquito Marauders from Virginia. If you're new to the blog or you need a refresher, The U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) STEM-In-Action Grant awards eCYBERMISSION teams up to $5,000 to develop their projects into mature and scalable solutions in their community. Normally, we award this honorary grant to five teams, but in 2020 ten lucky teams took home the prestigious award. We were excited to see what this team had done at NJ&EE, but we are even more excited to see the progress they’ve made since then.
Hello! We are “The Marvelous Mosquito Marauders”, 8th graders from Stone Hill Middle School located in Ashburn, Virginia. Our mission is to reduce the number of mosquito-borne diseases with ArboTrack, a crowd-sourced, geolocation, and photo-based app that accurately locates areas of standing water. This year, we are using eCYBERMISSION’s STEM-In-Action Grant to implement ArboTrack in both the local and global communities. 

Our team became involved with eCYBERMISSION in the gifted program at our middle school. With a deep passion and curiosity in pursuing STEM-related projects, we wanted to collaborate with each other as we had similar interests and ideas and were exhilarated to start our project for this year. This common cause brought us all together, as a team, to work towards this project with the mindset to solve the growing crisis of mosquito-borne diseases. 
Mosquito-borne diseases impact millions of people both nationally and globally. It is one of the leading causes of disease and death. In 2017, 94% of the United States reported 2,002 cases of West Nile virus, which is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the nation. Out of all these cases, 121 (6%) were confirmed deaths, which brings attention to the increase in lives lost. Malaria is endemic in 91 countries, with about 40% of the world's population at risk. Annually, over one million children die from Malaria and a child dies from Malaria every 30 seconds. 
Over this past summer, our community in the Northern Virginia DC area experienced an increase in the number of mosquitoes as did many other suburbs in the Washington DC metropolitan area. As we researched this further, we came across the news article, which reported the DC metro area had the worst mosquito problem among the several metropolitan areas in the United States.
As science students, we were intrigued by our research outcome and explored deeper into this problem. We noticed that there are various areas of standing water in the common areas in the community. When we reported this problem to the Home Owners Association (HOA), who is responsible for the upkeep of the surrounding areas; some areas of standing water got treated, but most were missed due to inaccurate information. 

We surveyed public health officials from the CDC and NIH and they stated that there’s a clear gap in communication and that phone calls, web forms, and emails are inefficient ways to report the issues pertaining to standing water. They also said that it takes about 2 weeks for local authorities to get information about mosquito-borne disease incidences from physicians. 
In order to resolve these problems, we believed developing an app was the most optimal solution to reduce mosquito-borne diseases.  Our solution to this problem is ArboTrack, a crowdsourced, geo-location, and photo reporting app, that will aid city authorities to locate standing water in real-time and enable health services to report clusters of these diseases. 

We identified three roles for our app: sentinel citizen, physician, and city employee. The citizen can log on to ArboTrack and report standing water by taking a photo of the location, uploading it, tagging the geolocation, and entering the city and zip code of the standing water. The physician can log in to the app using their medical license ID and report disease clusters and location. The city employee, who is the end-user of the information provided by citizens and physicians, can subscribe to daily reports about standing water and disease clusters.

With the STEM-in-Action Grant, our team plans to incorporate a machine learning algorithm in our app to filter out pictures that don’t represent areas of standing water or mosquito breeding grounds. Currently, we have created the first version of our machine learning model that has an 80% accuracy rate. This model can push predictions of images back to the app database. We also plan to publish ArboTrack to the Apple App Store and Google Play store and then integrate our app with Mosquito Abatement Agencies' Software. Throughout this year, we will post our updates on our social media accounts such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook and set up webinars and virtual events to spread the word about ArboTrack!
Another team taking on not just their own community, but the world…one mosquito at a time! We have been truly astounded by the intellect and determination of this team (and all our SIAG teams, for that matter) and cannot wait to see how ArboTrack will progress in the Spring. Catch The Marvelous Mosquito Marauders and all our SIAG teams in a few weeks to see how they are planning to end their year-long grant and where their projects will go next.

-Mission Control

Colleen Minan
AEOP Communications & Marketing Specialist


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