Monday, September 12, 2016

Virginia Tech Kids' Tech University information available

Please feel free to tell colleagues and friends about Kids' Tech University! 

Kids' Tech University (KTU, ) is a semester-long educational research program developed by the Biocomplexity Institute and Virginia 4-H, that puts scientists and engineers in front of children to encourage the exploration of intriguing topics in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). 

On Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 18 and April 1, 2017, 450 kids (ages 9-12 by Sept. 31st 2016) and their parents will come to Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) to watch Interactive Sessions by renowned research scientists and participate in hands-on activities. Each day's events will center on common themes related to everyday life. 

Registration will open on Oct. 24, 2016 at 6 pm. There is a $100 registration fee and scholarships are available. Please see-

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Free STEM summer workshop for 7-10th grade students

The 2016 STEM Summer Workshop is a FREE program for qualifying 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th grade students (in the upcoming 2016-2017 school year) interested in the science, technology, engineering, and math related fields. This FREE program will take place on Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Biocomplexity Institute (formerly the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute) of Virginia Tech.

The STEM Summer Workshop aims to expose interested students (Grades 7-10) to activities and experiences in the biomedical sciences and engineering. Students will participate in activities that provide hands-on experience working with basic concepts and features of these fields in the hopes of instilling an interest and possible career aspirations in the biomedical sciences or engineering. This workshop is intended to provide activities in a college environment as well as exposure to professionals who have made careers in these areas of study. Evidence suggests that the next wave of jobs in the American economy will be in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  This summer program intends to cultivate an interest and greater understanding of STEM as students continue their educational pursuits.

This program is sponsored by the Tau Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and is supported by of our partners including the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech and the VT PREP/IMSD program. Since its charter in 1992, The Tau Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is committed to the development of America’s youth and committed to service in the New River Valley and surrounding areas. This year marks the 4th year of the STEM Summer Workshop for qualifying students in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades.

*Event Details*
*Date*: Saturday, June 4, 2016

*Time*: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

*Location*: Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech
1015 Life Science Circle
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0477

*Number of Students*: approximately 50

*Program Eligibility*
A student is eligible for participation if he/she

   - Is a rising  7th, 8th , 9th,or 10th grade student in the upcoming
   academic year (2016-2017).
   - Demonstrates an interest in learning more about experiences in the
   fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
   - Submits the following documents:
      - an application
      -  a personal Statement (500 words or less)

To Register:

Registration ends Wednesday, May 25th at 11:59 p.m. EST

*Participants are chosen on a first come, first served basis.*

The contact persons for this event are Dr. Shernita Lee, 2016 STEM Summer Workshop Planning Coordinator or Dr. Gena Chandler-Smith, President, Tau Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. They can be reached at To register and find out more about the program, consult the following web address:

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 19th Virginia Tech KTU exhibitor

"Musical Arduino Orchastra"
The first "Musical Arduino Orchastra" focuses on taking real time measurements of light (as input) and programming those values to create tones or music (output). So in this "Arduino Orchastra" YOU are both the composer (through writing code) and the conductor (through shining different lights into the arduino musical device). Sound fun? To get a preview, google the term Theramin.

The second robotic activity starts off with a ready to program robot equipped with a real shooting laser! (safe laser pointer) You can either program him to scurry around the floor to make patterns, intelligently detect obstacles and avoid colliding into them, or use the killer laser attachment detect and shoot things in the room! Come check out and program our killer laser robot!

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.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 19th Virginia Tech KTU exhibitor!

Liquefaction – How Earthquakes Sink Structures
Liquefaction is a geotechnical phenomenon that can occur during an earthquake, causing the soil that supports a structure to loose structural integrity. This phenomenon can lead to damaging effects on buildings, bridges and other structures that bear on soils. For liquefaction to occur, a set of three conditions are required: the soil must be loosely packed, the soil must be saturated, and there must be significant ground motions. This booth allows for interactive involvement of the EERI chapter and curious and motivated participants to build a structure from blocks/Legos. With the guidance of the EERI Officers, the three liquefaction conditions are replicated and the participant’s observe how their structure responds to an ‘earthquake’.

Virginia Tech’s Earthquake Engineer Research Institute (EERI) Student Chapter/ Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

EERI is a global, non-profit society dedicated to advancing the science of earthquake engineering and reducing the adverse effects of earthquakes through research and education. The organization is made up of engineers, architects, city planners, public officials and all other professions that incorporate the responsibility to help reduce the risks of earthquakes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March 19th Virginia Tech KTU exhibitor

Heat-Sensitive Color Changing Slime!
Slime schwime! Who wants to play with the same old slime, been there, done that right? Well, what if you could make it change color with nothing but your bare hands? That’s right, we shall demonstrate the color changing capabilities of thermochromic pigment suspended in a gooey solution of non-toxic glue, food dye, liquid starch, and water. Slime so fun it’s a crime.

CurVinci Living Learning Community

Curvinci encompasses Curie and Da Vinci, two living/learning communities that reside in Lee Hall on campus. Curie and Da Vinci students study physical, quantitative, biological, and life sciences. See for more details.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 19th Virginia Tech KTU exhibitor

Candy Crystal Structures
Hand-made crystallography ball-and-stick models created using marshmallows and toothpicks. This activity will allow students to understand the different structures and geometries of the crystals and the minerals associated with them. Additionally, there will be a mineral and crystal structure matching game so that students can use their own candy-and-toothpick structures and ones provided to determine common mineral crystal structures.

Mineral matching with their crystal form to win a prize!
We will be making candy and toothpick models of crystal lattices matching mineral specimens we have on display.  When scientists buy these “ball-and-stick” crystal models they may cost hundreds of dollars!

Using paper cut outs and minerals, kids will play a matching game that matches a mineral to its crystal structure. If they are correct, they will receive a lucky rock!

This booth uses a combination of visual aids and guides to teach the kids about crystal symmetry and structure using minerals, paper cut outs and hand-made ball and stick models (marshmallows and toothpicks).

Museum of Geosciences with SGE Honor Society
The Museum of Geosciences is housed in the Department of Geosciences located at 2062 Derring Hall.  The Museum provides materials, activities, tours and programs.  Exhibits include beautiful minerals from all over the world, and some great examples from Virginia.  There are also interactive teaching stations: an OmniGlobe spherical projection system that shows global earth systems data. There is also an EmRiver Stream Simulation Model; a real-time earthquake display; a large collection of high quality minerals, rocks, and fossils; an Allosaurus dinosaur skeleton; and information about Virginia and local geology. Come visit!
Sigma Gamma Epsilon (SGE) is the national honor society for the Earth Sciences. with objectives of scholastic, scientific, and professional advancement of its members.  SGE members value friendship and assistance among colleges and universities, which are devoted to the advancement of the Earth Sciences.

Monday, March 7, 2016

March 19th KTU exhibit!

Design a sports car with EcoCAR 3 
EcoCAR 3 is a competition in which students transform a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle. While we want the car to be fast and safe, we also want it to be a job to drive and ride. That's where design comes in. The kids will design the "interface" of the Camaro, or how the car will interact with the driver and passengers. They can brainstorm whatever they like, from images of nature that only appear on the car's door when it's in "electric" mode to a Siri-esque voice that chats with the driver. After the brainstorming and drawing session, the team will chat with how engineering can bring their ideas to life.

EcoCAR 3 at Virginia Tech
EcoCAR 3 is a four-year competition headlined by General Motors and the Department of Energy. Sixteen university across North America are challenged to convert a 2016
Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle. EcoCAR 3 provides students with hands-on, real world learning impossible to find in a conventional classroom
setting. In the first year of the competition, Virginia Tech placed second overall.
To learn more, contact or visiting our Facebook page.

Friday, February 26, 2016

KTU Feb. 27th Exhibitor!

Asteroids and Exoplanets
A series of hands-on activities will be conducted in order to demonstrate different astronomy principles. Children are invited to swing a sound-making ball in order to teach the principle of the Doppler effect, and its implications for finding exoplanets are discussed. Next, A flour-filled pan is bombarded with balls of varying size and mass as an analogue for studying impact craters on the surface of the moon. Finally, a latex sheet stretched over a hula hoop is used to demonstrate concepts in Einstein's relativistic universe, including the orbits of planets and the development of black holes.

Alex Gagliano and Aishwarya Kumar
Alex Gagliano is a junior undergraduate studying Computational Modeling and Data Analytics at Virginia Tech. He is looking to pursue a career in astrophysics and astronomy outreach. Aishwarya Kumar is a first year graduate student in Electrical Engineering, specializing in Electromagnetics at Virginia Tech. She would like to conduct interdisciplinary study involving astronomy and astrophysics leading to a career in research and academia. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor

Fused Filament Fabrication - 3D Printing in Action
What could Leonardo da Vinci have designed if he had an iPad and 3D printer? This exhibit will show fused filament fabrication 3D printing machines in action. The exhibit will demystify the process that takes an idea and produces a three-dimensional object.

The Button Family
The Buttons are tech evangelists sharing STEM knowledge and inspiring students.

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor

"Microbes" by Microbiology Club at Virginia Tech

Our exhibit will focus on the role microbes play in our daily lives both good and bad. We will have microscopes set up so that individual bacterial cells may be seen and we will have bacterial cultures from different environments available for observation. The small size of bacteria will be emphasized as well as the importance of hand washing before eating.

The Microbiology Club of Virginia Tech is a student chapter of the American Society for Microbiology. Its memberships consists primarily of undergraduate students from across campus with an interest in microbiology.

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitors

VT RASC-AL Robo Ops 2016 Team

Given that our project revolves around background research and actual construction of a robotic rover system for future extra terrestrial exploration, we intend to operate a very hands on booth for attendees.  We will have our large rover system on display for students to observe being operated as well as interact with individually.  Team members will be presenting to attendees on the ideas of what makes a successful rover drawing parallels between past Mars rovers and our system.

Aerospace & Ocean Engineering Dept.
The design team running the booth is led by 4 aerospace students who are conducting research and development on the rover as their senior design project.  The team also includes 2 mechanical engineering juniors, 1 electrical engineering graduate student (and competition alumnus), and 2 highly experienced in robotics grade school members.  Our project is supervised by Dr. Kevin Shinpaugh.


Looking Down is Looking Up! Why do we work with aerial photography?

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 and remote sensing to identify changes on the earth’s surface. We will examine aerial photography from 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.

Geography and Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
This hands-on activity is being led by faculty from the Department of Geography  and the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, a 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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Feb. 27th Virginia Tech KTU program:

"The Old Curiosity Shop" by David and Kazuko Allen

We present a number of physics demonstrations, many of which are hands on for the viewer.
Questions and discussions are encouraged. The viewers are invited to explain the effects they see and are guided towards the answers.The viewers' curiosity directs the discussions.

David and Kazuko are retired educators interested in promoting scientific and mathematical curiosity as the driving force for young people developing an interest in STEM education.

Feb. 27th Virginia Tech KTU exhibitor!

Learn 3D game programming with Alice

The Alice  is a 3D interactive animation environment for teaching fundamental programming concepts. It uses 3D graphics to engage kids to learn the basics of programming.

Activity: How Tall Are You? Introducing Decisions and the use of Functions
This activity shows you how to program the Alice rendered 3D/java interface to make decisions and animate 3D characters by programmatically asking true/false questions. If the answer is true, you can make the 3D animation do one thing, if the answer is false, you make a different 3D movement. You will learn how to program decisions using IF/ELSE statements and use functions for determining height and distance between 3D objects. Great starter for starting to learn game programming!

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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor

What's Growing...
Have you ever thought about what is growing on your skin or in your mouth? Stop by and learn about the world of bacteria, fungi, and cells. We have interactive activities that will give you a sneak peak into the small world growing around you. We will explore what the small things growing look like macroscopically and microscopically. Exciting hands on demonstrations will include the use of microscopes and interactive models.

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine's GSA
We are the Graduate Student Association for the Virginia- Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and we are composed of the Ph.D.,Masters,and dual-degree (Ph.D./D.V.M.) students in the Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences (BMVS) department. Our department is composed of a variety of disciplines ranging from regenerative medicine, bacteriology, immunology, and virology to toxicology and emerging infectious diseases.

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor!

KTU Feb. 27th Exhibitor!

"DNA Extraction from Cheek Cells" by VT Undergraduate Service Learning Students

At this booth kids and parents will extract their DNA from their cheek cells. You will take home your DNA in a cute centrifuge necklace.

The undergraduate students hosting this activity have been trained by KTU to facilitate this activity. These students are fulfilling service hours for their undergraduate classes.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitors!

"Coin Batteries" by VT Service Learning Students

This booth is modeled after the US Naval Academy STEM program ( ). Kids will build a coin battery using pennies, zinc washers, vinegar, salt and paper towels. Multimeters will be used to measure the voltage through the battery cell.

Corrosion is also an electrochemical process. It can occur when two different metals are immersed in salt water. The Navy must prevent corrosion on ships.


"DNA Oragami" by VT Service Learning Students

At this booth the kids will create the double helix structure of DNA using only paper.

The Undergraduate students hosting this activity have been trained by KTU to faciliate this activity. These students are fulfilling service hours for their undergraduate classes.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor!

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor abstract!
"Exploring Structure Representations as Scientists and Engineers" by Virginia Career VIEW, School of Education

Participants will explore the range of characteristics that can be observed, created, and differ between a 2D and 3D representation of the same structure. The participants will have the opportunity to be scientists: describing and hypothesizing about the differences in the representations and how those difference may be important in understanding the structure. And the opportunity to be engineers: creating differing 3D representations of a structure based on a given 2D image. Resources regarding careers in engineering and science related to structure formation and tumor-research will be made available for participants to take with them.

Virginia Career VIEW (Vital Information for Education and Work) is recognized as the Commonwealth's Career Information Delivery System for all students in grades K-8 in Virginia. We are located at Virginia Tech as part of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in the School of Education. As part of the Office of Educational Research and Outreach, our mission is to inform, encourage, and support the education and career development of the people of Virginia. Virginia Career VIEW is supported by State funds from the Virginia Department of Education, directly through Virginia Tech. Our efforts combine independent research, engaging activities, in addition to hands-on statewide training and outreaches with the most current data presented using the latest technology.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feb. 27th Virginia Tech KTU exhibitor!

"Antarctica Today:  Geography, Penguins and More!" 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:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor

"Deconstructing of computers" by VT Service Learning Undergraduate Students

Get out your screw drivers and hammers. We are taking apart some computers!

The undergraduate students hosting this activity have been trained by KTU to faciliate this activity. These students are fulfilling service hours for their undergraduate classes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Feb. 27th KTU exhibitor

Below is what is in store for the Feb. 27th Virginia Tech KTU program. Posts will be featuring the exhibitors at KTU over the next couple of weeks!

"It’s a Small World" by Cimini Lab, Department of Biological Sciences

Ever wonder what your skin is made of or what an insect wing looks like? Come and see some of the smallest things in our world! Activities will be designed to teach students about the microscopic world, specifically cells, through the use of microscopes. We will provide intriguing sample slides for students to examine, such as cheek cells, plant leaves and insect wings. Videos of cells growing will be displayed to show examples of what powerful microscopes can see. Learn how microscopic things make up everything around us!

The Cimini lab is lead by associate professor Daniela Cimini through the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. The primary interests of the lab are in understanding the mechanisms driving successful cell division and how these activities can be applied to the medical and environmental scene.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Community hands on coding workshop

"Programming Lights and Knobs with the Arduino" ,
When: Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 4:30-7:30pm
Where: at Rackspace, Blacksburg, VA.
How: RSVP while there's still space:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Canceled- Jan. 23rd Virginia Tech Kids' Tech University program

The Virginia Tech Kids' Tech University program scheduled Saturday, Jan. 23rd, has been canceled due to inclement weather.