Four eighth grade students from East Ridge Middle School were selected as regional finalists in the eCYBERMISSION Science Fair, schools announced Thursday, May 10.

Team "Eco Cleaners," Evan Bellusci, Christopher D’Orso, Tyler Ingram, and Reed Koh also won first place in the state competition.

Team Eco-Cleaners was concerned about the impact of dangerous chemicals in household cleaning products on people and the environment. They solved this problem by creating an environmentally friendly multi-purpose cleaner that removes grease and prevents viruses. They used the antimicrobial properties of the following essential oils as part of their recipe; lemongrass, tea tree, peppermint, orange, lavender and eucalyptus. Not only did they test how well their cleaner remove stains but they compared to other cleaners on the market and also measured its impact on plants.

The boys were mentored by eighth grade science teacher Tiffany Antkies.

“This is the sixth year in a row that students from ERMS have won top stops in the state, but this is the first time that ERMS students have also been selected as regional finalists," Antkies said.

"I am so proud of the Eco-cleaners and all the students who participated in eCybermission. Completing this project required collaboration and grit. It was an exciting opportunity for students to research topics that they cared about and design their own experiments so solve real world issues to to better the community.”

Sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program, eCYBERMISSION is an online national STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) competition. It challenges students in grades six through nine to identify real-world problems in their local communities and to use either the Scientific Method or the Engineering Design Process to develop creative solutions to solve problems. It promotes self-discovery and enables students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM.

“eCYBERMISSION not only encourages students to be both creative and scientific, but also requires them to think critically while developing innovative solutions to some of their communities most challenging issues,” explains Dr. Mary Gromko, President of the National Science Teachers Association. “We congratulate the state winners and commend all of the team advisors for engaging and empowering their students to make a real difference in the world around them.”