Competitors in Foxcroft’s "Powered by STEAM" STEM Challenge Solve Steampunk-Inspired Dilemmas

Foxcroft team takes second in the high school division.

Holton-Arms School and Village School each claimed the top prize in their respective high school and middle school divisions during Foxcroft’s 13th annual STEM Challenge last Saturday.
Designed for middle and high school students, the competition saw girls from 15 schools in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, spend the day using their STEM knowledge, deductive reasoning skills, and common sense to solve challenges revolving around this year’s “Powered by STEAM” theme. 

Holton-Arms School's Textile Titans team from Bethesda, MD, received a solar-powered robot kit and unique medals designed and fabricated by Foxcroft STEM students using the laser cutter in The Innovation Lab as their first-place prize in the high school division. Second place in the high school division went to Foxcroft’s Spindle Spirits (Taylor C. ’26, Ava D. ’26, and Valentina D. ’26). Bullis School’s Mill Mavericks took third.

In the middle school division, the Village School in Arlington, VA, took home the top trophy. Second place went to The Hill School in Middelburg, VA, and Grymes Memorial School in Orange, VA, placed third.

Energy and enthusiasm filled Foxcroft’s Athletic/Student Center and Schoolhouse science labs as the teams worked through five unique challenges. 

In the Chemistry Lab at the “Blast from the Past” challenge, teams created rockets using household products (vinegar and baking soda) to determine the duration of their rockets by altering the amounts of baking soda or vinegar used to produce pressure. In the Briggs Biology Lab, “A Pox Upon Your House” participants were asked to step into the shoes of a physician in the year 1655. They had to use the Four Humors and the Urine Wheel to diagnose four patient cases, decide on a course of treatment based on descriptions of herbs available at the time and the process of bloodletting, and determine which herbs to place in the beak of their own plague doctor mask, for self-protection.

Back in the Athletic/Student Center at the “Temporal Twists” event, students had to break down a complex code of twisted symbols to help activate the time machine to get the STEAM Rangers back to the present. In the “Eggcellent Ex-capade” challenge, competitors were tasked with making a container to house an egg that would survive a second-floor drop while landing closest to an "X" target without breaking. Using the supplied materials, students had ten minutes to create the container.

New event sponsors Hord Coplan Macht and Coakley Williams brought several of their female engineers to not only administer one of the challenges but also to share their experiences and answer questions from the young competitors during a career panel. The team’s engineering challenge, “Under Pressure,” involved students building a structure using popsicle sticks and tape to support a brick. If it passed that test, it underwent “seismic shakes” to see if it survived that, too. 

Between challenges, students used Kindle Fires supplied by Foxcroft to answer trivia questions and earn raffle tickets for prizes ranging from gift cards to tech devices. Participants in the middle school competition learned a little more about Foxcroft’s focus on girls in STEM during a session with Head of School Cathy McGehee.
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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.