On January 19, Gov. Terry McAuliffe presented the BLAST team (Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology) with a “Programs that Work” award during the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition Awards ceremony. University of Virginia professors Ed Murphy, Astronomy, and Larry G. Richards, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, have organized BLAST at UVA for the past four years.
BLAST is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, the UVA College and Graduate School of Arts & Science, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. BLAST offers a free, dynamic, three-day residential summer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience for 8th and 9th grade students in the Southwest Virginia, Southern Piedmont, Charlottesville, and Greater Richmond areas.
BLAST brings STEM alive through a series of innovative hands-on experiences led by UVA science and engineering faculty and students. Last summer more than 160 students participated in a series of STEM Challenges including Trash Sliders: Design and build 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, investigating blade design in the context of mechanical, aerospace, and electrical engineering; Mars Rover: Design and build a remotely operated robot to explore a faraway location; and Poisoned Kool-Aid Challenge: Conduct experiments to discover what’s in a mysterious liquid.
Students heard from Astronaut Kathy Thornton about the Sights and Sounds of Space, experienced The Amazing Chemical Circus with UVA Chemistry LEAD students, enjoyed the Physics Show, and visited the McCormack Observatory.