Fake Spies Seek To Help Educate Real Students

The USA Network program Burn Notice focuses on the (mis)adventures of Michael Westen, a American spy trying to get back at those who ‘burned’ him out of his government service.  One feature of the program is the occasional explanations of various gadgets and techniques that are part of Westen’s spycraft.  While MythBusters has now twice busted examples from the show, I don’t think that has prompted a new contest focused on high school students.

The Burn Notice Science Challenge (H/T @JenLucPiquant and Greg Laden) is for high school students in grades 9-12 (U.S. residents only).  If you want a quick summary of the competition, watch this video with Sam Axe (played by Bruce Campbell).  Participants can be individuals, or teams of two or three, with an adult mentor/adviser to make sure everything is done safely (if you’ve seen the show, you’ll understand why this is necessary).  In the first phase of the contest, teams must develop a plan for one of three designated challenges (an alarm system, means of covert communications over long distance, or aerial surveillance).  Part of this plan includes the following:

“Use a scientific principle in the approach to solution or show how the scientific method can be used to achieve solution, and must include one or more of the following: technology – demonstrate the use of technological equipment; engineering – display the application of engineering principles; and math – show an equation or law of physics.”

Plans can be written or drawn.  A panel will determine up to 25 finalists, who will then develop a video demonstrating the implementation of the team’s plan.  Winners will receive cash awards, with the Grand Prize winner (and mentor) also receiving a trip to meet one of the cast or crew of the show.

Submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Feburary 15, 2013.  Good luck!


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