Take a mousetrap, build a vehicle around it, and develop a means by which activation of the trap propels the vehicle forward to reach a designated target.
Oh – and work with 14 other students all focusing on and fiddling with one mousetrap.
Mousetrap Vehicle was just one of dozens of challenges facing 44 teams of Northern Virginia high school, middle school and elementary school students who descended upon the University of Mary Washington campus on Saturday. UMW hosted the 2020 Virginia Science Olympiad (VASO) regional qualifying round.
A total of 550 students, along with their coaches and parents, participated in events such as The Sounds of Music, Boomilevers and Ping-Pong Parachute. The latter, which took place in the Hurley Convergence Center lobby, involved using two bottle rockets to lauch a ping-pong ball attached to a parachute. Most of the events took advantage of labs and other spaces in the newly updated Jepson Science Center
VASO, designed for third-graders through high school seniors, offers students the opportunity to improve their understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to work together in teams to learn new skills.
“We are so grateful to be able to host such talented students from across Virginia in our state-of-the-art facilities,” said UMW’s Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger, who was instrumental in bringing the Olympiad to Mary Washington. “Hosting this event is yet another example of UMW’s commitment as a public university to meet the needs of the commonwealth.”
Mellinger said he is hopeful Mary Washington will be the site of the event in future years. Not only does the Olympiad spark interest in STEM subjects, it gives students “a glimpse of what it’s like to work in a modern university laboratory.”