MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY –  Seventh grader, Marina Kijak of Unity Charter School was one of four students who earned 1st place in the 18th annual eCYBERMISSION competition. Kijak, along with Tucker Edwards, Elizabeth Gillen and Sophia Gillen, all of Pearl R. Miller Middle School in Kinnelon earned the honor.

The eCYBERMISSION competition – one of several science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program(AEOP). eCYBERMISSION, administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), is a web-based competition for students in grades six through nine. Students are challenged to work in teams of 3-4 to identify a problem in their community and use scientific practices or the engineering design process to develop a solution. Student prizes for each grade level are awarded at the state, regional, and national levels.

“We are incredibly proud of Marina and all the students that took part in this wonderful competition. We cannot wait to see what they do next,” said Connie Sanchez, Unity Charter School’s Executive Director.

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Known as team “Nerdz”, the 7 th graders collaborated on the competition as an extracurricularproject with Jemi Gillen-Ruth, Team Advisor, to research and demonstrate how video games can help students cope with anxiety.

“The team exemplified creativity and perseverance in developing and testing their hypothesis,” stated Gillen-Ruth. “These students are curious and determined and have bright futures.”

The team submitted its Mission Folder—the official write-up of the project— through the eCYBERMISSION website to be evaluated and scored by volunteer virtual judges.

First-place state winning teams received $1,000 per student team member in U.S. EE Savings Bonds.

For more information about the eCYBERMISSION competition, go to .


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