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BACON is a club at CHS for everyone that is interested in science, engineering, or just wants to join! Beginning in 2008, the Best All-Around Club of Nerds is a group of dedicated students and teachers who enjoy being nerds doing amazing things. This mediawiki aims to document the club, and give information about all of the many parts of it.


Charlottesville High School's science club formed officially during the 2009-2010 school year. In 2010, the club adopted the name BACON (Best All-Around Club Of Nerds). In September 2010, the club applied for MIT/NASA's Zero Robotics competition, which involved programming SPHERES satellites. BACON placed 8th in the simulation round and semi-finals round. In December, three team leads attended the finals at MIT where their code was tested aboard the International Space Station by Commander Scott Kelly. In 2011, the team competed in the Science Olympiad and Science Bowl Competitions, as well as the NASA BHALF Competition. The team won BHALF 2011 Top Team. BACON also regularly takes science-related trips, including a trip to view the launch of STS-133 and two trips to CERN.


BACON is a student run club, with student leadership and initiative keeping it running. Every year, a new leader, or set of co-leaders, is chosen from the senior class at CHS. These BACON Presidents run the club for a year, coordinating events, running meetings, and keeping the club as an awesome space for science.

Additionally, there is a student leader for each sub group in BACON. Some groups have multiple leaders, as different groups have varying needs for leaders. Each year, the group leaders pick a leader for thier group the following year, to continue the legacy and work to keep each part of the club thriving. Anyone who has interest can be a leader, and anyone who starts their own section is automatically it's leader.

Faculty Sponsor

Because it's at a pubic school, the club needs an adult sponsor. Dr. Mathew Shields has been that adult since the inception of the club. Staying after school for safety, and to help out when needed, he officially runs the club. Despite this, the student leaders are still allowed to be the true leaders, making decisions, and being the organisers, with Dr. Shields remaining as a great help and inspiration for engineering and science of all sorts.

After the Sigma Lab was built, Dr. Shields took on the role of running the space. Following this, Mr. Karl Helmstetter joined as a great addition to the BACON community. Keeping with the tradition of student responisbility, Mr. Helmstetter is there to help when needed.

Sub Groups


Main article: SSA

The Super Space Adventure (SSA) is considered by many to be the project at the core of BACON's genesis story. The original SSA flight occurred in January of 2008. Since then, it has spawned annual SSA flights, each in increasing complexity and sophistication.

Zero Robotics

Main article: Zero Robotics

Zero Robotics (ZR) is a coding competition run by MIT each year. BACON's team of a few, dedicated students takes on a new challenge each year to code a small satellite against teams around the world. Having gotten to world finals several times, ZR is a core part of BACON, where many of the most involved students devote their time.

First Tech Challenge

Main article: First Tech Challenge

First Tech Challenge is a robotics competition that attracts a large portion of students to compete in the nationwide event. Students plan, build, and code a robot in response to a new challenge each year, using regulated materials as well as ingenuity to determine the best way to complete tasks.

Science Olympiad

Main article: Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad is a group of students who enjoy science and engineering, and competing to demonstrate their abilities. Students enter in a competition to take tests on subjects ranging from astronomy to geology, or mechanics. Additionally, there are engineering challenges that students design and build to compete with.


Main article: DERP

DERP, or the group for Dangerous, Extra-Curricular Research Projects is a group designated for these students that don't feel they belong in any other spaces for any reason. DERP focuses on being able to do any project a student wants, in the realm of science. Without any competitions attached, or strict deadlines of any sort, students can work on projects they enjoy at their own pace, while being a part of BACON. Students are also encouraged to join the regional science fair, submitting projects against other students from around the area.

Media and Logistics

Main article: Media

Media and logistics is an integral part of BACON, that is separated some from the science and engineering aspects a little. Students work to continue the media and outreach aspects of BACON, promoting parts of the club, organising fundraisers, and connecting with experts in science fields of all sorts to bring knowledge and experience to BACON. The students work to keep BACON awesome, and to support their friends in all of the science they love.


Main article: CERN Trip

The CERN trip is an amazing opportunity in BACON that occurs every other year. The trip is an overseas field trip of around 30 students that is open to all interested juniors and seniors. The participants fly to Europe, where they stay in Paris, Besançon, the sister French sister city of Charlottesville, and finally Geneva. While the entire trip is known for fun experiences, the focus is on the CERN facilities in Geneva, Switzerland. Students tour the buildings, and talk with scientists and engineerings working on the cutting edge of physics.

Sigma Lab

Main article: Sigma Lab

In the summer of 2013, CHS broke ground on a new 7,000 sq. ft. space to facilitate and promote STEM and BACON activities at the school. While many students refer to the project as the BACONspace, the tentative official name is the Sigma Lab. The lab will include a "collaboration space," a computer lab, a classroom, several meeting rooms, and ample cutting edge equipment including 3D printers.

BACON in the Media


Additional Resources

SIGMA Lab Wiki Page

BACON Website

Charlottesville High School

Contact Us

Accomplishments and Accolades

Main article: List of BACON Accomplishments

Since its humble beginnings in 2009, BACON has accumulated an impressive array of accomplishments and accolades. The club has seen its code run on board the International Space Station, traveled to CERN to see the first 7 TeV beams enter the LHC, launched payloads to take pictures from 100,000 feet above Virginia, and thrown some killer parties. The main motivator for the club continues to be fun and exploration, but awards are nice.