Friday, February 21, 2014

KTU March Educator Workshop - “Working Off the Shelf: Where design and innovation meet.”

Virginia 4-H is excited to offer Recertification Points in conjunction with the KTU program.  No cost to participate!  12 recertification points offered.  Funding for half-day substitutes available for the first ten (10) teachers to register.  Funding for travel provided for the first ten (10) 4-H Agents to register. Program is held on the Virginia Tech campus.

**Any educator who has a child enrolled in Kids’ Tech University and who is attending the teacher workshop will need to arrange for a chaperone to accompany their child during the program. Children are not permitted to attend the educator workshop (regardless of age).**

On Friday, March 21, 2014, 1:00-5:00 PM, educators will:
  • receive coaching on the research topic and an introduction to activities   during teacher-training session.
On Saturday, March 22, 2014, 9:00-4:30 PM, educators will:
  • participate with the children and researcher in an interactive discussion
  • debrief morning discussion with researcher over lunch
  • practice hands-on learning activities with children and their parents; researcher will serve as coach and mentor at this time
  • modify activities based on educational setting
  • develop plan for application in the learning environment (classroom/after-school/camp/etc.)

Educators will learn it, teach it, and take it back to the classroom.
          Interact with:
          Technology Experts

Educators will engage in an exciting, hands-on teaching experience, and then apply what you learned in a unique, first-hand teaching environment with 3rd-7th graders.  You will also be able to participate in ongoing community blogs and network with other teachers and education specialists.

This program is ideal for elementary and middle school teachers, out-of-school time educators and others interested in STEM education.

Virginia 4-H is helping teachers make STEM-learning engaging for students through hands-on, experiential workshops offered as part of Kids’ Tech University.

The workshop:
  • provides opportunities to build STEM knowledge and skills in the area of interdisciplinary design
  • encourages student interest in product definition and concept generation
  • explores essential questions:  “How can we know if what we design meets what people need or want?”  “How can questioning be an answer when developing a product?”  “How can you turn good ideas into better products?”
For Registration see this website for a link to the registration application. 

Workshop leaders will deliver relevant and interesting activities using best-practice education strategies:
  • Dr. Kathleen Jamison (4-H Youth Development Professor and Informal Educational Design Specialist)
  • Dr. Tom Martin (Professor, the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering; Co-director, Virginia Tech Electronic Textiles Lab; Director of Implement Studio, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology)
As a result of the workshop, young learners will have an opportunity for exposure to current and relevant research through their teacher/leader’s ability to connect research back to the content standards through hands-on activities in real-world applications.

Contact Information:

Dr. Kathleen Jamison
4-H Youth Dev. Curriculum & Learning
(540) 231-9411

Katie LaFon
Virginia 4-H State Events Coordinator

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Demonstrating Properties of Polar vs Nonpolar Molecules- Da Vinci and Curie Living Learning Communities

Using dish soap, milk, food coloring and Q-tips, undergraduate science students from Virginia Tech’s Da Vinci and Curie Living Learning Communities will present a simple, fun and artistic experiment that demonstrates the properties of polarity.  Soap has a nonpolar end (hydrocarbon chain) and a polar end. The soap causes food coloring to move in the milk as it tries to align with the fat molecules. It is an amazingly simple experiment but will dazzle anyone!

Da Vinci and Curie are part of Virginia Tech's inVenTs living-learning community, a combination of four STEM communities focused on engineering and life, physical and quantitative sciences.  See  for more details!


Physics Fun Demos- Physics Outreach Program

The Outreach program of the Virginia Tech Physics Department illustrates physics concepts the fun way! Undergraduate students who have an enthusiasm for helping students learn about the fundamental aspects of physics go out on trips to surrounding elementary, middle and high schools or host students on campus to conduct exciting hands on activities and demonstrations.


Pin Wheels and Power of the Wind-- Virginia Tech Service Learning

Learn how pin wheels capture the power of the wind to spin and the real life application of green technology.

The undergraduate students presenting the activity are Virginia Tech Service Learning Students. As part of their classes, students participate in service projects where they donate a portion of their time and write a final report on their experience. Kids' Tech University is excited to work with these students!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

“Kids Controlling The World with Arduinos”-- Rackspace Hosting, Blackbsburg Division

In this activity booth, kids will hands-on-learn how to use Arduino
microcontroller to:
  • Read knobs and buttons... 
  • Control lights, relays, motors... 
  • Build and program circuits to control the world!
The activity introduces kids to Computer Engineering-ish programming concepts. It shows how to write programs to control the physical world around them by reading inputs (buttons or knobs) and control things like blinking lights, triggering relays, move robotic motors, etc.

Rackspace Hosting is the leader in Hybrid Cloud Hosting, the Open Source OpenStack cloud technology suite and is the home of Fanatical Support. The Rackspace offices here in Blacksburg is a Developer center where our programmers create the cloud technologies that power the Internet and the back end of many of the most popular Apps and Internet technologies. Rackspace believes in Open Source and Fanatically supporting the STEM and tech communities in which they reside. Sharing makes us all smarter.


Hokie Stone: The building block of Virginia Tech-- Department of Geosciences

Last year, ranked Virginia Tech at #5 on their list of best college campuses in the US. Aside from having unbeatable dining halls, Virginia Tech's campus received this recognition largely based on the beautiful Hokie Stone that covers almost every building on campus. This dark gray stone is limestone that has been infused with magnesium and calcium in the 450 million years since the stone's formation began.

At our booth we will:
-demonstrate a chemical reaction between Hokie Stone and Hydrochloric Acid to illustrate a basic principle in geology
-have on display a Hokie Stone football helmet, worn in last year's victory over Georgia Tech
-hand out Hokie Stone samples to the first 50 visitors

Virginia Tech's Department of Geosciences focuses on research, education, and outreach dealing with the nature of the earth. Our students and faculty investigate earth processes at scales that range from atomic to planetary.

Our undergraduate program offers B.S. degrees with Geology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Earth Sciences Education options.

Our graduate program offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in one of our many research areas.

Our outreach program also operates the Museum of Geosciences, open to the public and located in 2062 Derring Hall.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Demonstrating Properties of Polar vs Nonpolar Molecules- hosted by Da Vinci and Curie Living Learning Communities

Using cornstarch, water and kitchen pans, undergraduate science students from Virginia Tech’s Da Vinci and Curie Living Learning Communities will present a simple and tactile experiment to demonstrate the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid -- neither a pure solid nor a pure liquid, but rather a combination of the two.  A sticky, gooey and fun way to learn!

Da Vinci and Curie are part of Virginia Tech's inVenTs living-learning community, a combination of four STEM communities focused on engineering and life, physical and quantitative sciences.  See  for more details!


The Scientific Secret of Fluffy Pancakes- Virginia Tech Service Learning

Have you ever wondered what makes pancakes so fluffy? Why do pancake recipes always tell you not to overmix the batter? The answers to these questions lie in a protein called gluten. In this activity you'll learn about the chemical processes that make pancakes fluffy—and also why overmixing your pancake batter will result in tough, rubbery and flat pancakes.

The undergraduate students presenting the activity are Virginia Tech Service Learning Students. As part of their classes, students participate in service projects where they donate a portion of their time and write a final report on their experience. Kids' Tech University is excited to work with these students!


Do you have the right numbers?- Spotsylvania County 4-H

Many kids today have difficulty knowing how to make the smart decisions about healthy eating and active living.

9-5-2-1-0 Guidelines for kids for healthy eating and active living.  Learning these numbers will help kids remember and learn to make simple smart choices leading to lifestyle changes.  They will learn what each number represents through hands on take away activity.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Bridging Engineering and Biology -- VT-WFU Biomedical Engineering Society

Engineers play a key role in the advancement of medicine and health sciences. We explore various aspects of biomedical engineering at this booth and learn how researchers are applying engineering principles to the human body to advance medicine.

The Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University Biomedical Engineering Society (VT-WFU BMES) club is a unique way for students to become involved in outreach projects, research collaborations, and social events with other biomedical engineering students, faculty, staff, and industry.


Eat Well, Be Well! -- Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association (SNDA)

- Booth with 'myplate' activity~ we will have plates and different cut outs of foods and let kids 'make their own plates' to see if they can make a healthy meal! We will then explain what happens when we eat these foods- what goes on inside the body!
- 'Is this healthy?' Ask kids a series of questions and let them decide if it is a healthy food option!
- 'What your body needs'- why your body need fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and grains! (
- Poster

SNDA is the nutrition club at Virginia Tech.  As aspiring dietitians, we strive to help people choose healthy food options and reach their nutrition related goals.  We work with different organizations on campus, and different communities in the Blacksburg community to help promote healthy lifestyles.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Antarctica Today:  Geography, Penguins and More!- hosted by Hokies Abroad Antarctica

Students from the Virginia Tech Hokies Abroad Antarctica program will present photos and information on their recent study abroad experience in Antarctica.  Students will present characteristics of the Antarctic continent and use maps of the world to help you locate and compare your home country to Antarctica.  The exhibit will include a hands-on activity to demonstrate the importance of insulation to wildlife survival in the cold Antarctic climate, as well as the opportunity to take a photo in special clothing designed for use in the Antarctic.  The Hokies Abroad students will also present photos and video of their experience in Antarctica, including their interactions with penguins and the blood-chilling polar plunge!

The Hokies Abroad Antarctica program is a Virginia Tech faculty-led course in which students take an online course during the fall semester, followed by a 2 week expedition to the coldest, windiest, driest, highest, quietest, most remote, and least understood continent on Earth.  In the Hokies Abroad Antarctica program, students study contemporary issues in Antarctica such as Antarctica's history, exploration and exploitation of natural resources, the continent's geology, climate, and marine and terrestrial biology, legal, psychological, and anthropological aspects of human activity in the region, conservation of fragile polar ecosystems, and the impact of cruise ship tourism to Antarctica on the surrounding region.  For more details, visit:


Ink Chromatography-- hosted by Virginia Tech Service Learning

Chromatography is a method for analyzing mixtures by separating them into the chemicals from which they are made. It can be used to separate mixtures like ink, blood, gasoline, and lipstick. In ink chromatography, you are separating the colored pigments that make up the color of the pen. Even though a pen will only write in one color, the ink is actually made from a mixture of different colored pigments.

Forensic scientists are able to use ink chromatography to solve crimes by matching documents or stains found at a crime scene to the marker or pen that belongs to a suspect. Forensic scientists analyze the unknown ink and compare it to writing utensils collected from possible suspects.

Museum of Science and Industry Activity

The undergraduate students presenting the activity are Virginia Tech Service Learning Students. As part of their classes, students participate in service projects where they donate a portion of their time and write a final report on their experience. Kids' Tech University is excited to work with these students!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Robtic Extraterrestrial Mining-- Astrobotics at Virginia Tech

Mining in Space is the first step to substantial space travel and colonization. The extra-terrestrial minerals that have been studied have proven to be an effective fuel source. This is a must in the endeavor that is deep travel. Colonies on other planets would need to have a local fuel source. The first step in this would be in developing robots that can harvest regolith in the harsh environments found on Mars and Asteroids.

The Astrobotics team is a senior design team in the Aerospace and Mining engineering departments that is participating in the NASA Robotic Mining Competition. This is the 5th year of the competition formerly known as the Lunabotics competition has be held at Kennedy Space Center, but as space exploration has shifted from the moon to Mars and asteroids. The team is tasked with designing and building a robotic rover capable of mining Martian or asteroid regolith.  


Measuring Wind Speed- Virginia Tech Service Learning

You can observe wind speed affecting flags and trees and other objects around you, and you know that when the wind is blowing hard, tree branches move more and flags extend. In the early 1800’s Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort developed a scale for observing sails on ships to estimate wind speed. Over the next fifty years the scale was expanded to include observing sea and land conditions.

An anemometer is an instrument that measures wind speed. One common type consists of three or four cups that rotate in the wind. The speed at which they turn allows you to calculate wind speed. There are many other types including electronic digital anemometers, hot-wire anemometers, propeller anemometers, and laser anemometers.

The undergraduate students presenting the activity are Virginia Tech Service Learning Students. As part of their classes, students participate in service projects where they donate a portion of their time and write a final report on their experience. Kids' Tech University is excited to work with these students!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Fitness and Nutrition For Kids- hosted by Fitness and Nutrition Club at Virginia Tech

Being active and eating healthy can be fun and educational! It is really important for kids to learn at an early age the benefits of a healthy lifestyle that incorporates good nutrition with physical activity. We will have activities showing them fun and easy exercises they can do anywhere and tips on how to make healthy snack choices. There will be fun snacks offered and games on portion control and nutritional value of some of kid's favorite foods, among other games and activities. Getting 30-60 minutes of exercise a day doesn't have to be boring. We will show kids how to be active, even when the weather isn't cooperating outside.

We are the Fitness and Nutrition Club at Virginia Tech. Our goals are to provide fun activites for college students and the surrounding community to stay active and make healthy choices. We are a volunteer based organization and are very involved in surrounding elementary schools, helping to teach kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle.


Looking Down is Looking Up: Why do we work with aerial photography?  -- Geography and Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Geospatial tools, which include geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing, provide us with a new understanding of the earth. In this activity, participants will use GIS to identify changes on the earth’s surface. We will examine aerial photography from two different time periods, and students will explore, estimate, and measure general changes in land use during these two periods. Students will also be exposed to basic remote sensing interpretation skills. Observing these kinds of changes helps us understand how landscape changes influence our local communities and environments. These data provide communities with the necessary information to plan for the future, and mitigate the impacts associated with these changes.

This hands-on activity is being led by faculty from the Department of Geography  and the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation,Ph.D. student in Geospatial and Environmental Analysis and Geography and Meteorology students. This activity is co-sponsored by the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program and VirginiaView.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Passion for Virus Tracker in a Box is contagious

BLACKSBURG, Va., February 10, 2014-- The late Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson may have been the first to declare, “I am a part of all that I have met,” but a novel classroom tool created by researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech may be the first to make students actually believe it.

Virus Tracker In a Box (VTIB) allows students to use bar-coded wristbands to follow the path of a virus in real-time, from initial infection to school-wide “epidemic,” revealing that the total number of people someone affects can be much greater than just those they directly infect.

Kristy Collins, education programs and outreach specialist at the institute, explains the Virus Tracker in a Box program includes scanners, bar codes, and additional exercises for the curriculum. The screen shows a transmission tree that generates for participants to track the spread back to 'patient zero.'

The Virus Tracker program is a part of a larger effort being pursued by the institute’s Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL) involving activities in computational epidemiology to understand how diseases are transmitted over distance and time.

By using computer models, big data, and novel decision support systems, the researchers avoid the expense and risk of experimenting with actual infectious diseases.

In the Virus Tracker game, players become part of a virtual virus-spreading exercise in which bar- coded wristbands represent infections with a particular virus.

The first person to be infected is known as “patient zero.” He or she can choose how many others to infect by giving away wristbands.

People receiving the next round of bands choose how many others to infect, and so on, until all bands are dispersed.

Each game kit includes a scanner to enter the bar codes into a database that displays the resulting “transmission tree,” as well as other statistics about the virtual epidemic.

Each participant can find his or her place in the tree, and trace the path backwards to find “patient zero.”

“We are excited to bring this technology and educational experience to classrooms and informal education venues around the nation. The project brought together the institute’s software developers with the scientists at our Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, as well as Franklin County, Virginia teachers, to produce the VTIB software and curriculum package,” said Kristy Collins, a K-12 program specialist, and Kids’ Tech University director at the institute.
In addition to the game, the VTIB package includes:

  •     a crash course in biology that walks students through the characterization of life and explores how viruses can highjack our genetic code and potentially change our DNA.
  •     an exercise where students can develop their own creative model of a virus.
  •     an exercise on epidemiology and the retrovirus HIV, where students are given vials representing “bodily fluids” and a solution is pipetted into the vials. The teacher then places a drop of phenol red in each vial as students watch as their solution turns red (infected) or yellow (not infected). Students then begin the “Hunt for HIV,” working backwards to find patient zero.
Sixth-grade health teacher Randy Miskech from Wilmington, N.C., has been thoroughly amazed at the effect VTIB has had on his students.

“The Virus Tracker in a Box System is 21st century learning at its best,” Miskech said. “This system has allowed me to step away from multiple choice, true-false questions and look at a real world application and apply it to hands on learning.”

Misketch said his students took control of the game, setting up computers and mobile laptops, “infecting” students, and gathering and analyzing data.
Miskech also notified school administrators “and to my delight, they came down and were willingly exposed to the virus! What a joy for the students, creating relationships with the principal and other staff!”

Educators can acquire Virus Tracker In a Box via an online form at the VTIB website, and the materials, along with a tailored curriculum packet, will be shipped as they become available.

This project was funded from National Institute of General Medical Sciences, administered through the MIDAS Network, grant number: U01 GM070694-09, Dr. Kristy Collins and Dr. Stephen Eubanks, the National Science Foundation, grant number: CNS-1011769, Dr. Madhav Marathe and VBI, and the Fralin Institute at Virginia Tech.

A university-level Research Institute of Virginia Tech, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute was established in 2000 with an emphasis on informatics of complex interacting systems scaling the microbiome to the entire globe. It helps solve challenges posed to human health, security, and sustainability. Headquartered at the Blacksburg campus, the institute occupies 154,600 square feet in research facilities, including state-of-the-art core laboratory and high-performance computing facilities, as well as research offices in the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, Va.

Written by Emily Kale.


Tiffany L Trent

Monday, February 10, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Virginia Career VIEW

Join Virginia Career VIEW to learn about careers using imaging, scans, and biochemistry.  What would you do in these careers? What skills do you need?  Where would you go to school?  All of these questions answered with printables, our interactive career website, and hands on experiments.

Virginia Career VIEW is the state's K-8 career information system.  Virginia Career VIEW provides career information and educational planning tools for students, their parents, and professionals working with grades K-8.  This free website does not require any sign in and includes a career search, national college search, interactive career games, and more matching the Virginia Standards of Learning and Virginia School Counseling Standards for Career Development.  Virginia Career VIEW is part of the Virginia Tech School of Education.


Understanding Nanotechnology-- hosted by Virginia Tech Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology - VTSuN

The Virginia Tech Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (VTSuN) is an interdisciplinary research center focused on advancing nanoscale science and engineering research and education with an emphasis on sustainability. Nanomaterials are ubiquitous in the commercial marketplace; they are embedded in your clothing, soaps, cosmetics, and TVs. Furthermore, nanoscience and engineering is leading to advances in an array of fields including medicine, electronics, sensing and energy. The VTSuN booth will be an engaging educational experience with a series of hands-on activities exploring nanoscale science and technology topics. Our activities will focus on explaining the principles behind the unique chemical and physical properties of nanomaterials.

Founded in March 2010, VTSuN is a multi-department, interdisciplinary research center focused on advancing nanoscale science and engineering research and education with an emphasis on sustainability. We develop nanoscale technologies and leverage these technologies to help remedy global sustainability challenges in areas such as clean air and water, waste minimization, environmental remediation, food safety, and renewable energy.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd Hands-on Activities

Special Senses- hosted by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

How do your body recognize what happens in the environment? In our exhibit medical students from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will interact with you to demonstrate the Special Senses. You will learn that 1) Touch is part of the sensory system and it is more than using our hands to feel things. Our skin helps us to recognized difference in temperature, vibrations, texture, pressure and pain. 2) The visual system can trick us with optical illusion due bright light and contrasting patterns. It is the mental processing that determines how we see the world. 3) The auditory system detects sound vibration and we can identify where the sounds come from because we have two ears on each side of our head. 4) Taste and Smell are the chemical senses and they are very close related.

Volunteers students and a faculty from Basic Sciences from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke, VA).

What can we see with chemistry!- hosted by the Chemistry Club at Virginia Tech

Stop by our booth to learn more about polymers, acids, and bases with the Chemistry Club.  We can make a solution thicker, change its color, and generate bubbles using different chemicals, some of which are in your own kitchen!

We are the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates at Virginia Tech, with 20 active undergraduate members.  There are several outreach programs during the year, including demostrations and hands on activities.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Virginia Tech KTU Feb. 22nd hands-on activities!

Fun with Polymers and Plastics!- hosted by Virginia Tech AMSA (American Medical Student  Association)

We want to introduce kids to the many ways that polymers surrounds us and affect our lives. We will have different types of plastics from commonly used items as well as a hands on activity that makes a fun 'slime', or 'jelly cubes' for kids that are perfectly safe (they come from a company aimed at projects with elementary schools) and they could take home with them. We will discuss in simple terms how polymers also make up our DNA which is what we are made of. We plan to have a very upbeat, interactive, hands-on group!

The AMSA group at Virginia Tech has two main goals: to better prepare the student members for careers in the medical field and also to raise awareness and concern for health in the local community. The members actually have alot of experience with kids. Our two main, ongoing projects are Hokie Health Club and Friday Night Friends. Hokie Health Club is an after school program twice a month teaching kids the importance of exercising and eating healthy. Friday Night Friends is where twice a month we volunteer to babysit special needs children and their siblings to assist parents. Both of these activities have been going on all year and all members have been required to go and participate so everyone has experience with children.


Guess that Portion Size- hosted by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Healthy eating means knowing what and how much you eat.  Although the terms serving and portion sizes are used interchangeably, they are actually two different things.  A “serving” is the amount of food recommended by consumer education material such as MyPyramid.  A “portion” is the amount of food you choose to eat at any one time.  If your portion is bigger than one food group serving, it counts as more than one serving.  To overcome portion distortion, kids will have the chance to be part of a game show where they estimate recommended serving sizes using common household items.

Volunteers students and a faculty from Basic Sciences from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke, VA).