The U.S. Army announced that Kaitlyn Chow, Soumya Ganti, Shristi Pithadia and Michelle Seagull along with Team Advisor, Gina Zuk of Madison Middle School, have been named Connecticut’s first place winning team in the 2013-2014 eCYBERMISSION competition, one of several science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives offered by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP).

Designed to inspire student interest in STEM, eCYBERMISSION, which is administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), challenged students in grades six through nine nationwide to develop solutions to real-world problems in their local communities.

The team, The Red Hot Techie Peppers, winning project focused on environmental issues and oil spills. The project consisted of various experiments to examine what was the most thorough method to clean oil spills. The team used the scientific method to perform experiments, utilizing prior knowledge as well as new scientific research. Because the students live in an area near Long Island Sound where oil ships pass through to the oil tanks in New Haven, they wanted to find a method to efficiently contain and clean oil before it harms sea-life.

As a first place state winning team, each student member received a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond, valued at maturity.