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eighth graders at Genome Genies conference in Washington, DC

Jack Sadowski is a proud genie - a Genome Genie.

Jack is one of four Providence Day students who were national finalists for eCybermission, a virtual STEM competition for middle school students and freshmen. He joined Rishi Mishra, Atlas Long, and Luke Longin, all rising freshmen, as finalists for the event in Washington, D.C., last month.

He called the competition, which examines community problems and allows students to find solutions, “fun.” eCybermission is a club at Providence Day.

photo collage of eighth graders at Genome Genies conference in Washington, DC

“Once students decide to join the club, they break off into smaller teams based on interests and a project idea,” Jack says. “They meet throughout the year to prepare their project for the initial judging.”

Genome Genies designed an integrated DNA solution to provide people with access to DNA data during routine health checks at the doctor's office.

Community engagement

The Providence Day team was selected as a regional finalist in April. They competed virtually against teams from the Southeast. They won the regional competition, which allowed them to compete at the national level in Washington, D.C., last month.

They were one of five eighth-grade teams in the nation that competed in front of a panel of judges made up of STEM professionals and educators.

Providence Day team advisor Kelly Gordon was also selected to attend but couldn’t make the trip. James Chamberlain, a Middle School Science teacher, and Lee Tappy, the head of middle school, attended.

“The eCybermission National Competition is a lot of fun,” Jack says. “They are very enlightening about STEM and U.S. Army topics and provide lots of opportunities for the future.”

He continues: “The national competition also gives a lot of social opportunities, letting teams meet with a lot of other people and make new friends. Overall, even though I was nervous for the national competition at first, the whole experience was awesome and I would do it again as many times as I could.”

Students met with STEM professionals and employed and used technology and math during their problem-solving. Students learned how to engage with their communities and worked to identify and/or solve local problems with expert advice, according to the eCybermission website.

Students also interacted with mentors, one of whom was an Army sergeant, and workers with the Army Outreach Educational Program.

“As we ask students to do in our classrooms every day, eCybermission challenges teams to identify a problem and work towards a solution that may not have even been considered up to this point,” Mr. Tappy says. “What they learn about research, gathering and analyzing data, and working towards a common goal is invaluable for their journey as students.” 

The competition

More than 2,000 teams participated in this year's eCYBERMISSION competition, but only 20 were at the national finalist event in Washington, D.C. 

“The best part of my eCybermission experience was meeting new people,” Jack says, “and having a great time with my team and friends.”

ECybermission is a middle school staple at Providence Day - the club for sixth- through eighth-graders is more than 15 years old and multiple teams have been chosen to participate in the national competition.

“This program is important to Providence Day because it exposes our students to the exciting opportunities that come from a challenge specifically focused on STEM, and it also helps them to understand better the incredible careers that exist in the Army and have nothing to do with being a soldier on the front battle lines,” Mr. Tappy says. “This is a way to serve your country as an engineer, scientist, or as a cyber security or technology expert.”

Teams for the competition meet throughout the year to get their project ready for the initial judging, which usually takes place in late April or early May. 

“Making it so far and having the opportunity to participate in the National Showcase was a wonderful accomplishment for these students and for our entire school,” Mr. Tappy says.