BOONE, N.C. — Faculty and staff members from the Appalachian State University College of Arts and Sciences and College of Fine and Applied Arts will bring their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) expertise to the 10th North Carolina Gravity Games. The event, back for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held in downtown Lenoir on Saturday, April 29.
The Gravity Games is the signature event of the North Carolina Science Festival, a multi-day celebration highlighting the educational, cultural and financial impact of science across the state. During the Gravity Games, middle school and high school teams from across the state compete in colorful gravity-powered cars they've designed and built themselves. The top teams in each division receive prizes from Google, the main sponsor of the event. App State, the University of North Carolina and the City of Lenoir are also sponsors of the event.
The objectives of the Gravity Games are to have a fun, educational, inspirational and competitive event that allows hands-on engineering; to enable students and STEM professionals to interact; to unite members of the community in an environment of fair competition and celebration; and to develop an engaging competition and event that can be replicated for the future.
This year, over 50 teams will participate in the Gravity Games. These teams are comprised of school groups, Boy Scout troops, Boys & Girls Clubs and other groups from across North Carolina.
The following App State faculty and staff members, in collaboration with STEM students, will assist with the event:
Joey Mosteller '11, senior lecturer in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Zach Russell, adjunct instructor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Dr. Roshani Silwal, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Chris Tolbert, practitioner-in-residence in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
Elise Weaver '11, astronomy laboratory director in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Mosteller has been involved with the event since 2014. He runs the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences (GES) table. "GES has been extremely helpful in providing lots of cool and interesting rocks and minerals through the years for me to share with attendees to the Science Street exhibit," said Mosteller, who thanked his GES colleagues Anthony Love and Marta Toran for their help gathering the materials. In addition to representing GES, Mosteller has helped his son's Boy Scout troop compete in the racing competition with their soap box derby car in past Gravity Games.
Russell, advisor of App State's Robotics Club, shared that club members will provide a hands-on coding demonstration using the programming languages Scratch and Scratch Junior during the event. "They have been testing out demos to try to help kids in attendance get a fun early exposure to programming, robotics and automation!" explained Russell.
App State's Physics and Astronomy Club will also provide demonstrations at the Gravity Games. "Participants can join us to learn a few physics concepts by playing with the physics demonstrations under our supervision. For instance, the 'Van de Graff Generator' and 'Squishy Circuits' to learn the idea of electricity," shared Silwal, co-advisor of the Physics and Astronomy Club.
Tolbert is the advisor of Team Sunergy, App State's solar vehicle team. He shared that Team Sunergy's role in the 10th Gravity Games is to inspire and provide outreach to the next generation of students. Team Sunergy students plan to display their solar car named ROSE, which stands for "Running on Solar Energy." ROSE was the 2021 winner and the 2019 and 2022 second-place finisher of the American Solar Challenge.
"We have enjoyed our prior experiences connecting with the participants, fans and guests of the North Carolina Gravity Games. Team Sunergy can certainly relate to the participants as our competition goals are very similar. With our attendance we hope to build upon a community that strives to develop, share and learn about technologies that can improve overall vehicle efficiency," said Tolbert.
For more information about the event, visit ncgravitygames.com.
About the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Located in Western North Carolina, Appalachian State University provides the perfect setting to study geological and environmental sciences. The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences provides students with a solid foundation on which to prepare for graduate school or build successful careers as scientists, consultants and secondary education teachers. The department offers six degree options in geology and two degree options in environmental science. Learn more at https://earth.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Department of Physics and Astronomy’s curriculum has an applied nature that includes a core of fundamental physics courses and laboratory experiences. The department prepares graduates for a variety of scientific, teaching or engineering professions, as well as future educational endeavors. Learn more at https://physics.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology. Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology. Learn more at https://stbe.appstate.edu.
By Lauren Andersen
April 6, 2023