West Middle students win military cyber contest

West Middle 7th and 8th grade winners: Front row, left to right: Armaan Vasowalla, Akshara Iyer, and Yasmin Gulbas; Middle row, left to right: Iltikin Wayet, Patrick Shaw, Sophie Keeler, Amanda Morin, Jolene Pern; Back row, left to right: Sebastian Zhu, Andrew Smithson, Caroline Chen, Andrea Pantazi, Nina McKone.Courtesy photo

Fourteen West Middle School students were recognized by the U.S. Army through its 14th annual eCYBERMISSION competition.

Two teams per grade from each state across the country are chosen as winners. This year, the seventh and eighth grade Massachusetts winners were all from West Middle School.

The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program, is an online learning competition designed to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM. In the competition, sixth through ninth grade students are tasked with developing solutions to real-world problems in their local communities. 

The state’s first place seventh-grade team from West Middle, the Acid Attackers, investigated ocean water acidification and mitigation methods to help the ocean species affected by this condition. Team members included Caroline Chen, Sophie Keeler, and Amanda Morin. 

The Acid Attackers were also chosen as a Northeast regional finalist and will compete for a chance to attend the national competition in Washington, D.C. in June. Each member of the team also won $1,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds in addition to $1,000 each for being chosen as one of the top three seventh grade projects in the Northeast. 

Another West Middle seventh grade team, G.O.A.T., placed second in the state with team members Patrick Shaw, Andrew Smithson, and Iltikin Wayet. Each student was given $500 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds. 

Two West Middle eighth grade teams also placed in the competition. 

The first place team, A.N.A, won for students’ engineering project prototype design that would measure the amount of snow on a roof and alert homeowners when the pounds per square foot is approaching a given threshold. The team’s design would then turn on a heating device to begin alleviating the stress on the roof. Members of A.N.A included Akshara Iyer, Nina McKone, and Andrea Pantazi. 

The second place eighth grade team, The JAYS, were national finalists in last year’s competition.  This year, they developed an app to alert phone users of the potential for “text neck,” which group members said is a medical condition that occurs because of improper positioning of cell phones when texting. Members of The Jays included Yasmin Gulbas, Jolene Pern, Armaan Vasowalla, and Sebastian Zhu.

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