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Osakis students come out on top in state

The three Osakis High School students who took first place in the 12th annual eCYBERMISSION state competition were (L to R) Breanna Dallum, Kiara Timmerman and Melissa Wielenberg. (Annie Harman/Echo Press)

In a state where big cities make competitions a part of classroom curriculum, three ninth grade girls in a small town used their spare time to become state champions.

Kiara Timmerman, Breanna Dallum and Melissa Wielenberg, ninth grade students at Osakis High School, decided they wanted to form a team and compete in the 12th annual eCYBERMISSION Competition. Using it as an extracurricular activity, they placed first in Minnesota.

“A lot of schools use this as a classroom requirement and work on it all semester,” said Julia Zieman, the group’s advisor. “I’m really proud of this group; it’s rare to have a team of all females!”

eCYBERMISSION is a national STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) competition sponsored by the Educational Outreach Division of the United States Army. Teams of students select a problem or issue to analyze in their community and propose alternatives that might alleviate or improve it. The problems must be in the area of environment, security, robotics, education, technology, food and nutrition, or sports.

The Osakis team analyzed the effects of music on math proficiency. The girls found there was a communication conflict between parents and kids, where the parents thought that music would distract them from their school work.

By giving timed tests to students, the group measured the level of improvement between the tests where no music was played, where lyrical music was played, and where non-lyrical music was played. In the average student, the results between no music and lyrical music were about the same, but the non-lyrical music tests showed improvement.

They also were able to show that students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder improved with either music playing, but more significantly with non-lyrical.

They presented their research and findings via an online Mission Folder that was judged by a team from the U.S. Army Research Division the first week of March. On April 7 it was announced that they were the Minnesota state champions. Each girl received a $1,000 trust fund.

The girls competed in regionals on April 24, where they presented their Mission Folder again and included a two minute oral summary via conference call. The results were released May 7 and though the Osakis team did not advance to the national finals, they were noted as one of the top 16 teams in the nation and one of the top four in the North Central United States.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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