Competitors Over the Moon for "Galaxy Trek" STEM Challenge

Foxcroft teams take second and third in the high school division

Madeira School and Immanuel Christian School each claimed the top prize in their respective high school and middle school divisions during the ninth annual STEM Challenge on February 22.

Designed for middle and high school students, the competition saw 160 girls from 21 schools throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, using their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math to participate in challenges revolving around this year’s theme, “Galaxy Trek,” to restore failing systems onboard a space station and preserve the astronauts’ scientific endeavors.
The event was highlighted by a visit from Dr. Sandra H. “Sandy” Magnus, former astronaut and current Deputy Director for Engineering within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering serving as DoD’s Chief Engineer for Advanced Capabilities. Magnus drew from her extensive career and experience living on the International Space Station to speak about the importance of girls in STEM, extending this piece of advice to the young girls present. “If you remember nothing else from today, remember this — if you have a dream and you find that passionate thing that really, really fires you up and you're really enthusiastic about it, you owe it to yourself to go for it.”

The winning Majestic Moons team from Madeira, comprised of Chi H., Zelda T., Sophie W., and Caroline C., claimed the high school trophy, designed and fabricated by Foxcroft STEM students using the tools in The Innovation Lab. The Madeira team also won one of the five individual challenges.

Second place in the high school division went to Foxcroft’s Nifty Nebulae team (senior Tam L., juniors Scarlett D. and Eunice Y., and sophomore Finy Z.), while the Snazzy Supernovas (junior Jennifer C., sophomore Elise L., and freshmen Rebecca C. and Emily W.) took third. Foxcroft School teams also won four of the five individual challenges.

In the middle school division, the team from Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, VA, also named the Majestic Moons (Eva P., Hannah L., Grace N., and Naomi T.) took home the middle school trophy, in addition to winning one of the five individual challenges. The Hill School’s Snazzy Supernovas (Violet W., Natalie P., and Zoe K.) placed second, in addition to winning two of the individual challenges. Third place went to the Venus Voyagers (Caroline F., Nora H., Eliza J., and Ellie S.) from Village School in Charlottesville, VA. Teams from Harmony Middle School (Hamilton, VA) and Norwood School (Bethesda, MD) also won individual challenges.

Event sponsor Stryker Corporation runs one of the challenges each year, and this year brought one of their largest groups of female engineers (15) to not only participate in the event but also share their experiences and answer questions from the young competitors during a career panel.

Energy and enthusiasm filled Foxcroft’s Athletic/Student Center and Schoolhouse Science Labs as the girls, in teams of three or four, took on five different challenges. In the Biology Lab, they used bags of cereal to simulate the disuse osteoporosis experienced by astronauts in microgravity. In the Chemistry Lab, they combined ingredients to recreate a “cat food” formula that could be given to the feline test subjects on board the space station. In the coding event, they navigated the terminal to locate access codes, and they used Sphero robots in the physics event to simulate the reset sequence needed to activate a backup server.

The Stryker team’s engineering challenge involved fixing a communication device, using the answers to math and science problems to identify the resistor that would go into a circuit and flash a code corresponding to a message (in this case, “HELP”). In between the challenges students used Kindle Fires supplied by Foxcroft to answer questions about space and about the teams themselves, encouraging interaction with their fellow competitors.

The annual competition showcases Foxcroft's innovative and appealing focus on the STEM fields and allows girls to develop collaborative skills working with others and gain confidence in fields so often dominated by boys.
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.