Va. students win national science competition (Video)

WASHINGTON – Two northern Virginia schools now boast winners of a major student science competition.

Alexandria and Chantilly each have a winning team out four top spots in the U.S. Army’s research development and engineering e-CYBERMISSION competition.

The competition, administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is designed to encourage student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives that the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) offers.

The winning teams were a group of 9th graders from Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, and a group of 7th graders from Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, the NSTA announced in a news release.

The “Text U L8R” team, 9th graders from Thomas Jefferson, designed a device to detect a distracted driver and refocus them.

Valerie Chen, Raghaz Ramraj, Matthew Sun and Jasper Treakle used a Microsoft Kinect device to determine if the driver was distracted. The group wrote complex algorithms to program the device and acquire its data.

The Thomas Jefferson team developed two surveys, an online presentation and educated the participants about the dangers associated with distracted driving.

The team also created a website and published literature to share with its community to spread the word about their project.

The 7th grade winners, calling themselves the “STEM Ninjas,” from Rocky Run Middle based their project on the country’s reliance on foreign oil consumption.

Looking into algal biofuels, they built a biodegradable system that allows algae to grow and then be converted into fuel. The system, called the Floating Photobioreactor for Algal Cultivation, or FLO-PAC, was able to turn the algal oil into biodiesel.

Each member of the teams won bonds that will mature to $5,000.

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