What’s BACON?

BACON is the Best All-Around Club of Nerds, the club at Charlottesville High School dedicated to competing in science competitions around the country, completing any and all science projects you can think of, and taking trips.

BACON was founded in the fall of 2010, and since then the club has been growing in intensity and general BACON coolness. Check us out!


Zero Robotics (ZR): Hosted by NASA and MIT, the Zero Robotics competition invites high schools from around the country to compete in an online programming contest. ZR began in 2009, and that year BACON took ninth place overall! The competition involves programming SPHERES, satellites designed by MIT and used in real-world applications on the International Space Station. The finals round of ZR is held aboard the ISS with real SPHERES satellites. For the finals in 2009, Commander Scott Kelly – while aboard the ISS –  actually ran our code and said “Congratulations Charlottesville High School.” How cool is that!

Science Olympiad (SO): Science Olympiad is a nation-wide competition (encompassing regional, state, and national level tournaments) in which teams compete in knowledge- and engineering-based events. In 2010, BACON came in 8th place at the state SO tournament! SO knowledge events include Optics, Forensics, Fossils, Ornithology, and almost everything else. Engineering events generally include Tower Building, Helicopter Building, Sumo Robots, Robotic Arms, and/or Rube Goldberg Machines.

First Tech Challenge (FTC)FTC is a robotics competition which requires teams of students to design, build, and program robots to accomplish crazy tasks.  Each year, the competition is different but it’s always very challenging and lots of fun.

Our Science Projects and Events 

Super Space Adventure (SSA): Super Space Adventure is definitely one of the coolest things BACON does. SSA is a project where BACON members send up our very own weather balloon into a near-space environment and take video and still-shots of the balloon’s flight up and down. Since 2009, BACON has sent up 3 SSA balloons; our last one (sent up in spring 2011) reached an altitude of over 95,000 feet! For each SSA, BACON members design the project, send it up ourselves, and track it using HAM radio. SSA3 was the very first balloon to be successfully tracked and recovered (SSA1 was lost forever, and SSA2 was lost but eventually recovered by a very nice hunter). Check out our videos: SSA2SSA3: First 6 MinutesSSA3: 90,000 Feet Above Lake AnnaSSA3: A Rainbow from Above

Ooblek Extravaganza: “Ooblek” is a non-Newtonian fluid created by mixing cornstarch and water; this means that it is a liquid, but at high velocities it becomes a solid. In November 2011, BACON made a giant tank of ooblek for everyone to run across.

Annual BACON Memorial Day Aerial Extravaganza: BACON hosted this event for the first time in 2011. We held a BBQ and launched model rockets, flew model airplanes, and had a generally great time. Check out the news video about the event!


Florida Trip (2010): BACON went to Florida in a valiant attempt to witness the second-to-last NASA shuttle launch ever. Through our NASA connections we scored a bus pass to witness the launch from a gangway nearby; unfortunately, our plans were foiled by the delay of the launch due to technical difficulties. However, over 40 BACONites still enjoyed the trip  — we visited Harry Potter world and the Kennedy Space Center before returning home.

D.C. Air and Space Museum Trip (2011): Exactly as it sounds — BACON took over 50 members on a day trip to the DC Air and Space Museum. Why? Because the museum is awesome! You can see pictures of BACON members next to their favorite exhibits here.

CERN Trip: See the CERN Trip page for more info!