The sixth-grade Hy-Wire team from Troy Howard Middle School is the state winner in the 13th annual eCYBERMISSION competition, one of several science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives offered by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program.

Sponsored by the U. S. Army and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, eCYBERMISSION is a web-based STEM competition that is free to students and designed to help build their interest and knowledge in STEM. Students in grades six through nine are challenged with developing a solution to a real-world problem in their local community.

The sixth-graders took on the problem of creating a robot that could go into fires so that fire personnel would not have to. Students made a prototype of the robot and tested it for maneuverability and strength. They researched materials that could fireproof their robot, suggested changes to improve their robot so it could turn 360 degrees, and researched cameras that they could place inside for remote viewing.

Once the robot was completed with assistance from Steve Groening, industrial arts teacher, the team — Mackenzie Cunningham, Lincoln Graf, Ethan Hall and Evan Rolfe — took it to the Belfast Area Fire Department for inspection.

The team devoted many hours of rebuilding and discussing changes in design, researching materials possible for use, and then writing up the scientific report, according to Beth Haynes, their sixth-grade science teacher and eCYBERMISSION adviser. "The Hy-Wire team received an 'Excellent' score in all three areas of the report," she said. "Extraordinary job, Hy-Wire team!"