Eighth- and ninth-graders from across Virginia gathered at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science in August for BLAST – the Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology Program.
BLAST is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, UVA Engineering, the UVA College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The program offers a free, dynamic three-day residential summer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience. Larry Richards, a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, helped lead the program with Edward Murphy, associate professor in the Astronomy Department.
Students were treated to STEM Challenge Sessions, hands-on, team-based activities that required data gathering, analysis, and problem-solving, as well as designing and building things.
Activities included: Trash Sliders, designing and building a vehicle made from trash to run an obstacle course without spilling its load; Wind-E, designing wind turbines in response to the need for alternative sources of energy, and investigating blade design in the context of mechanical, aerospace, and electrical engineering; Mars Rover, designing and building a remotely operated robot to explore a faraway location; and Poisoned Kool-Aid Challenge, conducting experiments to discover what’s in a mysterious liquid. Students heard from Astronaut Kathy Thornton about the sights and sounds of space, and experienced The Amazing Chemical Circus with UVA Chemistry students.