BURN NOTICE Science Challenge (STEM)

Do you know Burn Notice? It is a TV series on USA Network involving a spy, an ex IRA soldier, and a retired Navy Seal who end up working together to solve two problem streams: the ongoing difficulty of why (and how) the main character, Michael, was “burned” as a spy, and the novel problem that arises every episode in which the team helps some hapless innocent from getting out from under the boot of a nasty bully criminal, or something along those lines. During the process of handling these parallel problems, the crew have to MacGyver their way out of a lot of problems, and much of this is narrated by Michael, who is the most highly qualified spy on the planet, who explains to us the counterintuitive (but once you know them obvious) details of spycraft. For instance, if you want to make a certain kind of covert listening device, get the cheapest cell phone you can find and use that mic, together with the transmission circuitry of a higher quality phone. The cheap phone will not have a digital sound dampening system so it will pick up everything, while a more expensive mic will not, and thus, won’t work to bug a room or a car. A lot of cell phones and other household devices are dismantled and used to make motion detectors, bugs, or some other device.

The USA Network has developed the “BURN NOTICE Science Challenge, for High School students in the US…

… to promote science, technology, education and math (STEM) education and to encourage America’s high school students to become more involved and interested in science. Winners receive scholarships, on-air recognition and the opportunity to meet the cast and crew of BURN NOTICE.

Here’s The Chin, aka Sam Axe, talking about the project:

More from the project coordinators:

It seems that since the advent of popular culture science shows (BURN NOTICE, CSI, etc.) high school kids have become more interested in science, math and technology. Kids are taking forensic science summer camp courses and robotics, etc. They see a tangible career path that can lead to an interesting career for the future. USA Network wants to encourage that path even further with the launch of the BURN NOTICE Science Challenge. What better way to merge science and popular culture to spark that interest?

The Challenge, which was developed in consultation with a prestigious panel of science teachers from across the country, kicks off with the return of BURN NOTICE and a Public Service Announcement (PSA) with series star and fan favorite Bruce Campbell inviting students to test their skills and imaginations.

To enter the competition, individual high school students or teams of up to three, backed by an adult advisor, must solve a safe yet compelling challenge that the characters on BURN NOTICE might face, such as covertly communicating with other operatives, surveilling enemy territory and gathering intelligence on adversaries. In the first round, which will run from November 15th, 2012 to February 15th, 2013, students will be asked to submit a 1500-word essay describing their invention and the scientific principles that would make it successful. Up to twenty-five finalists will be selected to go on to a second round in which they will have to create a video demonstrating how they use their STEM knowledge and everyday materials to meet the challenge. The full Challenge guidelines are attached.

BURN NOTICE creator, wtiter and producer, Matt Nix is passionate about inspiring young people to follow their imaginations and their science dreams.

Here’s the website.

The following would NOT be a good example of an acceptable project:

Do not blow anything up. Thank you, that is all.

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9 thoughts on “BURN NOTICE Science Challenge (STEM)

  1. This is really good stuff, but apparently Matt Nix is a “wtiter?”

    I’m not sure what the “w” stands for, but it would seem that in addition to making fairly awesome shows and encouraging student scientists, he is a “way of expressing concentration?”


    …..sorry, the editor in me couldn’t resist. And the geek in me just egged the editor on.

  2. I’m an avid watcher of the show and to my knowledge the team has never included any mercenaries. Maybe you’re confused about the character Sam Axe who is a retired Navy Seal and has never been a mercenary. ??

  3. Yes, I was thinking of retired Navy Seal Sam Axe as a mercenary. I’m still thinking that is correct, but he should be “retired navy seal” more so.

  4. my entire engineering acedemy of 150 students are each submitting there own application. Hopefully some of our peers will have a shot at being a finalist. i’m doing loud and clear.

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