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When eighth graders Remi Ladia, Advaith Gajulpally, Anish Paspuleti, and Saranya Gadwala entered the eCybermission competition, they were not expecting to win the competition at the eighth grade level and receive a five thousand dollar grant to make their prototype into a reality, but that’s exactly what happened. 

“We thought it would be fun to do together. We’ve worked together on competitions before, In the beginning, we didn’t have the intention of winning, we were doing it for fun and learning a lot,” said Gadwala of their decision to enter the competition. 

The eCybermissions competition is an educational outreach program sponsored by the US Army with the intention of “promot[ing] self-discovery and enabl[ing] all students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM.” 

The competition asks students grade six through nine to ask questions and define problems, and then construct explanations and design solutions. 

The winning team, the participants of which attended Rocky Run Middle School at the time, named themselves “Aquatech” and set about solving the problem of wasted water in the showers. 

“The idea is everyday life, my mom would always yell at me for wasting water. To me it felt like it doesn’t really matter, but from a real world standpoint it does,” said Paspuleti, who had the idea for the project. 

The solution that the team came up with was a device that attaches to the shower head and connects to an app that measures the amount of water used in a shower. Using a hydroelectric generator, the device counts the number of rotations. Then, the team constructed a formula which could track the amount of water being used in the shower. Once the amount of water used passes a certain number, the app will alert you to exit the shower. 

As for advice for students considering entering, Gajulpally said: “It’s really fun. Don’t think of it like a project or an essay, think of it like a fun activity.” 

“You can’t go wrong, entering in itself is going to teach you something, you’re always going to learn something from it. It can give you more skills that can help you, expose you to a certain field. You never know how far you’ll get, we didn’t expect to be here at all,” said Gadwala. 

The students and their parents extend their thanks to the US Army for this educational opportunity. Said mother Hein Ladia: “To have this type of experience is priceless. It further builds on the future and talent of the children in the U.S.” 

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