BACON - Best All-around Club of Nerds Credit: Charlottesville City Schools
For a remarkable fifth straight year, the CHS science club (BACON, or Best All-around Club of Nerds) has qualified for the finals of the NASA and MIT-sponsored Zero Robotics competition. The team — comprised of CHS students and their competition partners from Australia and the United Kingdom — is presently ranked 9th worldwide. CHS is the only Virginia school (and one of just 20 schools nationwide) to have qualified.
 
“I’m incredibly proud of the students,” notes CHS principal Eric Irizarry. “To qualify for the international finals even one time is amazing. But it’s especially impressive that the team — made up of different students each year — has qualified five years in a row.”
 
Held on January 27, the finals take place on the International Space Station, where the students’ programming will control a real satellite. Due to travel limitations, students gather at MIT or designated world viewing sites to watch the competition with other teams.
 
Each year, the competition poses a challenge to students, who must write code to help their satellite successfully navigate a space scenario while competing with another team’s satellite engaged in the same task. Since this year’s challenge describes a scenario near Mars, students will have the opportunity to engage with professionals working on current missions to Mars. (For additional details about the competition or the challenge, see the attached release from the Zero Robotics organizers.)
 

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