Forsyth Herald– One group of students from Forsyth Central High School is using the summer vacation to continue learning, and it’s paying off. The team entered the 2016 eCybermission STEM program in hopes of just placing, let alone finishing a state winner, a national finalist and winning the Army Values award.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The local group is composed of ninth graders Danielle Byrne, Miyang Tamanji, Alexandra Yates and Samuel Dong. They were narrowed down with 19 other teams as national finalists from more than 60 regional qualifiers and 4,400 entries nationwide.

The cyber mission is equivalent to a science fair, Tamanji said. The students are asked

to look at problems in their world and use science, technology, engineering and math to create new solutions.

The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Army to inspire young people to become engineers and scientists. The team apparently knew how to conquer this part, as they won the Army Values award.

“People get together and learn about teamwork, pushing themselves to pass their limits in order to find a solution to their problems,” Tamanji said.

Originally, the team joked about even joining the competition, Dong said. But after brainstorming ideas, they realized their topic, the damaging effects that fertilizers do to nearby bodies of water, was a real problem in their community. They are hoping the results they share will help minimize human effects on the environment.

“We live near the large manmade lake, Lake Lanier,” Dong said. “And that’s our main source of drinking water and irrigation for agriculture. We thought if we could figure out a solution, we could improve the situation in our community.”

Each finalist team traveled to Washington, D.C. for the competition. While there, the students were able to speak to their senators and congressmen in order to discuss their project.

“It’s been a great opportunity and an amazing experience,” Yates said. “We’re getting all these new opportunities to try new things and really expand our STEM skills.”

The students said after going through this experience, they want to continue helping the environment and educating people.

“Being able to come this far really encourages us to keep pushing ourselves,” Byrne said. “We can now see the great things that can come out of working our hardest and continuing to reach newer heights.”

To learn more about the competition, visit ecybermission.com.

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