STEM School 8th-grade girls are among national winners at world’s largest science competition


A group of middle-school girls at Aurora University’s STEM school developed a creative approach to helping humanity lessen its reliance on finite energy resources and received kudos from the world’s largest K-12 science competition for their work.

The team of four 8th grade girls from the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at AU were national winners at the annual Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association Exploravision competition, taking second place for designing a way to make cleaner car exhaust systems. The girls ranked among the top eight science teams in the nation.

STEM School 8th-grade girls are among national winners at world’s largest science competition
The winners are (from left to right in the photo) Vamshika Bejawar, Manya Davis, Elizabeth Kaleta, Sarah Ramos, and Sri Battula.

In their project, “CO2RS: A Cleaner Future,” the students redesigned a car exhaust system to be more eco-friendly with carbon scrubbers, converting carbon dioxide waste to electricity and methane, which can be used to fuel an environmentally friendly vehicle.

“The girls worked very hard to creatively redesign the existing car exhaust system into an eco-friendly solution,” said their project advisor and science teacher Elizabeth Kaleta. “They have all attended the STEM Partnership School since third grade and are great examples of how the school helps children expand their imagination and have fun while developing their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math education from an early age.”

The students are invited to participate in a digital event ceremony in June, during which winners will have the opportunity to showcase their winning ideas in a presentation to scientist and author Bill Ney. The event—moved from a live event in Washington D.C. to a virtual event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—will culminate with a digital awards ceremony in which students will be formally recognized for their creativity and accomplishments.