The North Carolina Science Festival, an initiative of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, is a multi-day event focused on showcasing science and technology throughout the state. The Carolina STEM Challenge Competition, held in conjunction with the Science Festival, invites North Carolina middle and high school classrooms to design and build solar, mousetrap, and balloon-powered race cars. Josey Thompson, science teacher at Rochelle Middle School in Lenoir County remarks “I love the Carolina STEM Challenge Competition, it gives my students a chance to [be] engineers and think. They enjoy the challenges and figuring out how to make the cars work”.
The competing classrooms represented a mix of middle, high, rural, urban, public, charter, parochial, and alternative schools. Entrants submitted a short video via YouTube demonstrating their design, explaining their scientific process, and showing their project in action. The winning teams were selected by a panel of judges:
- 1st Place: Chaise Swisher's Mousetrap Car Team, Elkin High School - Elkin, NC
- 2nd Place: Greg Stolze’s Mousetrap Car Team, Stanly County Early College - Albemarle, NC
- 3rd Place: Marsha Dunn’s Solar Car Team, South Stokes High School - Walnut Cove, NC
Carolina Biological Supply Company provided 115 STEM Challenge® kits to facilitate the competition. Each kit is designed to help teachers introduce students to real-world applications of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and potential STEM career opportunities. “The students learn so much in the challenge and it reinforces class instruction with hands-on activities” commented Marsha Marsha Dunn, science teacher at South Stokes High School in Stokes County. Meszaros added “Our mission is to help make hands-on STEM learning a priority in schools. Promoting STEM education in over 300 schools in North Carolina since 2012, this competition aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”