ATLANTIC CITY — With an app that helps people learn about recycling, two Ocean City Intermediate School fifth-graders received a first-place award in the statewide STEAM Tank competition earlier this month during the annual New Jersey Education Association Convention.
Isabella Kenny and Daphne Brozyna, both 10 and from Ocean City, said they hoped to help solve what they saw as a problem in their school. They designed a mobile-phone application that mimics the popular game Minecraft, but its players can only use recyclable material to build. This way, they said, students learn what they can and can’t recycle.
“It was really exciting (to win) because we never really tried any competition before,” Brozyna said.
Brozyna said they were inspired by a teacher who stands by the trash and recycling bins at lunch to remind students what can and cannot be thrown in the bins.
“We wanted to help,” she said.
STEAM Tank, in its second year, is a statewide science, technology, engineering, art and math competition sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association and the U.S. Army. In January, as part of their school’s OC Life 21 Club, the two girls developed the idea under the direction of computer science teacher Maureen Baldini. In May, they were one of 193 applicants to this year’s STEAM Tank.
Brozyna and Kenny competed as finalists last month at the NJSBA Workshop in Atlantic City. They were among several students from local school districts, including Egg Harbor Township, Little Egg Harbor Township, Cumberland Regional and Atlantic County Institute of Technology.
As part of their prize for the elementary school division, the girls were awarded $2,500.
Baldini said that while she was there to assist, her two students developed and designed the app themselves. Now, she said, the Cape May County Utilities Authority is interested in helping to make the app become a reality.
In addition to Ocean City students, two groups from Cumberland Regional High School took home third- and second-place honors in the high school division.