Ninth-grade team from Naperville takes first place in national STEM competition

Urica, a ninth-grade team from Metea Valley and Neuqua Valley high schools in Naperville, took first place in their grade level at the 21st annual eCYBERMISSION National Judging & Educational Event. They created a preventative solution for hyperuricemia using plants with beneficial properties, developing a safe, effective, and accessible product to combat uric acid build-up.

The other winning national teams in this U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program were MISSing Monarchs (sixth grade), H2O Bros (seventh grade), and Cardio for Chemo (eighth grade).

Each student from the winning teams has earned $10,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds at maturity.

The annual eCYBERMISSION NJ&EE took place June 26-29, welcoming more than 70 regional winners in sixth to ninth grade from across the country.

Over 1,800 teams participated in eCYBERMISSION, an online STEM competition for students that promotes teamwork, self-discovery and the real-life applications of STEM. During the competition, students are encouraged to identify a problem in their community and either research the problem using science or solve it using engineering. Teams advance through state and regional competitions for the chance to compete at the national level. The 20 finalist teams presented their eCYBERMISSION projects to a distinguished panel of judges, consisting of senior scientists and engineers from the Department of Defense and the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), as well as the eCYBERMISSION Team Advisor of the Year.

"The National Winners of eCYBERMISSION demonstrate the transformative power of STEM education and the ability of young minds to make a positive impact in their communities," said Christina Weber, AEOP Cooperative Agreement Manager. "We congratulate this year's exceptional teams for their dedication and innovative problem-solving skills."

The 2023 eCYBERMISSION National Winners and their remarkable projects are as follows:

• MISSing Monarchs - sixth grade: Raised awareness and implemented initiatives to sustain the declining monarch butterfly population, including seed distribution, engaging local officials, and establishing butterfly waystations. Team from Bay Sea Scouts in Bay Village, Ohio.

• H2O Bros - seventh grade: Developed innovative methods using centrifuge technology and distillation to purify water from fracking extraction, achieving a 95% success rate in germination experiments. Team from Southcrest Christian School in Lubbock, Texas.

• Cardio for Chemo - eighth grade: Designed a personalized app to help alleviate symptoms in cancer patients through exercise, utilizing digital wireframes and an app building platform for coding and testing. Team from West Middle School in Andover, Massachusetts.

Registration for the 2023-24 eCYBERMISSION opens in the fall. For more information, visit

The ninth-grade Urica team, from left, Nidhi Sagaram, Viraj Vyas, and Samil Sharma, features students from Metea Valley and Neuqua Valley high schools in Naperville, led by advisor Bhavna Sharma. Courtesy of eCYBERMISSION
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