STEM-In-Action Spring Scoop: CO2

New week, new chance to catch up with our STEM-In-Action grant teams to see how their projects have progressed since we followed up with them last Fall. If you're new here, 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. The teams have had several months to continue their work on their SIAG winning missions and we cannot wait to see what this week's team, CO2, has accomplished since then.


We are team CO2 from West Fargo, ND. Our team members are comprised of four 8th graders (Emma, Alexa, Kaitlyn, and Sullivan), and we currently attend Liberty Middle School! Our eCYBERMISSION project in the works involves the creation of a phosphorus filter. The iron-enabled biochar design was created to be attached to a drain tile pipe and filter phosphorus from the runoff water passing through. We have made a lot of progress in the past few months, so we hope you enjoy learning more about us in this blog!

What progress have we made since receiving the grant? First, we met with Dr. Chad Ulven from a local company named C2Renew. He educated us on which materials would be the most beneficial to use for filters and gave us some resources for buying them. After meeting with him, we ordered our materials and we are happy to say that we have begun to prototype our idea! Also, we are now in the process of planning an off site lab study with North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) professors and students to test the conceptual design of our prototype!

What are some real time goals? Well, our main goal right now is to have a functional prototype for our design. As Covid restrictions lighten, our team is finally able to finish our building plan. Afterwards the testing and revisions begin. Another goal we have is to finalize our column study design for off site experiments! We need someone to check on the study each day, so we’re planning on relocating the study to our school for ease of data collection. None of us have a driver’s license, so this keeps the project easier to monitor.

What the future holds, none of us know! The past year has definitely been unexpected, but our team is dreaming even bigger than ever when it comes to our project! In the future, we hope to publish a research paper about our studies with the assistance of NDSU students and professors. After our prototype is finalized and built, we plan to host an educational event for our community. The event would aim to educate people on the effects of phosphorus pollutants and how people’s behavior can contribute to a solution.

Our team has definitely experienced speed bumps as we have worked on this project. Challenges have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the schedules of extracurricular activities. We have been very committed to working together as a team, and with physical distancing during the pandemic, we are meeting electronically via Microsoft Teams. When new Covid restrictions have been implemented, or a new sport season or school activity starts which interrupts individual schedules, we have adjusted our meeting schedule! We are hoping for COVID-19 restrictions to be more relaxed soon so we can go to the NDSU lab and continue to utilize community resources!

As you can imagine, the biggest challenge that was presented to our team was COVID-19. By a long shot, this problem was the toughest to overcome because of its complexity and ever changing status. New restrictions were being made, while others were being lifted; everything just kept changing! Working on a team project required us to network together in new ways, while practicing physical distancing. It tested the team to the limit, but we came out stronger than ever. Even though our team was faced with COVID, we changed and adapted with it so that we could continue to work on our project and keep chasing our dreams! Thank goodness we could stay connected through technology!

Team CO2 has been blessed with amazing community resources and mentors. We have been featured in Future Farmers' Magazine, presented at 1 Million Cups, worked with NDSU professors and students, received congratulatory letters from North Dakota's US representatives Kevin Cramer and Kelly Armstrong, and have been invited to various agricultural events in our community! In summary, here are links to some of the publications listed so you can learn more about our project:
  • 1 million cups: “1 Million Cups Fargo: Omnibyte & Neset Consulting”
    • link
    • Featured at 14:37
  • Future Farmers Magazine: “7th Grade Science goes Global”
    • link
    • Featured on pages 95-97
If we could pick the most ideal outcome for our project, what would it be? The most successful outcome that we can imagine would be that our prototype is successful and patentable. We hope to be able to make a positive impact in our community by implementing our filter into the drain tile fields of North Dakota; and even possibly scale our project even bigger!

Our team is forever grateful for the experience eCYBERMISSION has provided us this year! One of the biggest highlights of our project so far has been getting to work with our community to make this concept possible! It has been so fun to go to events at Emerging Prairie’s Grand Farm, work with NDSU students and staff in their labs, and reach out to other various companies in our community for input and support. We never realized how much the Agricultural Technology community had to offer in Fargo and we couldn’t be more grateful for all we have learned through it! This project has brought our team and community closer than ever and we will never be able to put to words how much these new experiences mean to us!


We love hearing about our teams getting their projects seen and heard by real STEM professionals in their communities! Seeing team CO2 reach out to their community resources, mentors, etc. is what eCYBERMISSION is all about - giving kids the opportunity to talk to real-life STEM pros and see how their futures could look. We know this team is headed for big things with their phosphorus filter, and we are on the edge of our seats waiting to see what they accomplish next!

-Mission Control

Colleen Minan
AEOP Communications & Marketing Specialist


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