A team of four students from Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast took second place in the state last week in the eCybermission competition sponsored by Maine Science Teachers Association and the U.S. Army.

Each team member received a prize: a $500 savings bond.

Dan Jewell, Tyler Kirkpatrick, Ryan Philbrook and Eric Stevens spent several weeks preparing for the competition by learning all they could about watersheds, water quality, and the indicators, both chemical and biological, used to monitor water quality.

According to Kirkpatrick, they “worked vigorously, hour upon hour, day upon day. It was no cake walk.” They were coached by their science teacher, Rafe Blood, and Cloe Chunn and John Tipping, volunteers from the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition. Tipping also operates Lotic Inc., a water quality testing lab in Belfast.

The boys entered as a team at the suggestion of their teacher, Beth Haynes.

MSTA teachers were the judges, and the competition was carried out online, to avoid missing school — but also with another purpose. The cyber method is net zero carbon; with no travel, there are no carbon emissions. This sets an example of how to be “part of the solution, not part of the pollution.”

Each individual brought his unique strengths to the team, whether it was conceptualizing, field work, process, data checking, fact checking, editing, or keeping the team on task. The boys said they had fun and became better friends.