Thinkabit World of Work and Robocrafting Labs

The mission of the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech, National Capital Region, is to serve Washington, D.C. area students, teachers, administrators, parents, and collaborators in technical career exploration and the hands-on electronic and programming foundations of IOT and Smart Cities sensors, actuators, and data collection and analysis. In doing so, we are preparing our future STEM workforce and our increasingly diverse, technology-driven community for jobs that may not yet exist. VT-Thinkabit will work with like-minded teams, organizations and individuals interested in promoting curiosity, innovation, creativity, and students’ self-actualization and self-determination.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Urban Alliance Public Speaking Challenge

Dima Al Falahi

Urban Alliance hosts a Public Speaking Challenge for our Washington DC area interns each year.

They give a $100 bonus to those who are in the top 20% of the rubric metrics.  

Of course we like hearing or seeing the reflections shared by our interns just as much as the great work they do for us.

Nina Le

Jose Perez

Friday, June 15, 2018

Augmented Reality in Falls Church City Public Schools

Last summer our H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown high school interns Ben, Bryan, Alex and Eddy built an augmented reality sandbox with one of long-time favorite teachers Carey Pollock and some great folks from NoVa Labs (retired engineers Nick Carter and Sharon Dempsey).  The NoVa Labs folks built their own the following semester.

Carey aimed even higher, developing a plan with a detailed budget that could be replicated by teachers confidently.  She also applied for funding from the Falls Church Education Fund, which always seems receptive to integrated science and technology learning projects. 

Carey's students finished this week.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Wearable Technology Workshop

Our CyberJutsu Girls partner put on another great workshop today for girls in grades 5 and up (through high school).

Monday, June 4, 2018

Boolean Girl Fundraiser

Student programs

The key program element of Boolean Girl is a progressive, age-appropriate, long-term learning path for our students. Central to our approach is early and consistent engagement.
In small class sizes facilitated by trained instructors, we provide progressively challenging sets of projects that bridge the middle school years. We know our content appeals to girls, because we’ve tested, refined, and improved it. We’ve taught hundreds of girls in camps and schools, and we’ve found a couple of broad themes: girls tend to like projects that have a story; they tend to gravitate toward collaborative work; and they tend to be less interested in skill-based video games like pong. Instead of the traditional computing environment in which girls are opting out, our girls opt in and crave more complex projects. Our goal is to prepare girls to start high school on equal footing with the boys, ready to join the high school coding classes.

Events to inspire and raise awareness

We also introduce girls to the basics of programming through workshops and hour-of-code events sponsored by corporations, community organizations, and other entities. These events are an exciting way to jumpstart a girl’s interest in computer programming, but the events are just the beginning! Our goal with hour-of-code events, day long hack-a-thons, and workshops is to generate interest in launching a series of events or a local club so girls can experience continued exposure to coding.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Our 2017-2018 Graduate Assistant

 Our thoughtful, flexible, adaptable,
 innovative, curious, observant, and simply
 indispensable graduate assistant became
  Dr. Wei Sun last week.  

Wei is an electronics and communications engineer, and came to us with a Masters in bilingual technical education. With all of her doctoral coursework completed, this year she wrote and defended her dissertation (in her third language!) in education psychology on statistical modeling of the factors by which young people establish and retain a technical (STEM) identity.

Teaching schematics of series and parallel circuits.
Wei manages things around the Lab intuitively, and not only embraces our mission, but demonstrates it daily. And her everyday reflections have helped us refine nearly every aspect of what we do with administrators, teachers, librarians and other educators, business and nonprofit leaders, and of course thousands of visiting school-age students.
Robot and servo motor repair.

 Wei has also taken a big leadership role in working with and training more than 20 regular high school interns.

Dr. Wei Sun and five of our terrific Urban Alliance interns (Jose, Aisha, Dima, Nina, and Anfal).

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Girl's Technovation 2018 Event

Today more than 70 middle and high school girls presented a long list of innovative projects, mostly mobile apps, with an emphasis on equity and social justice.  Anyone listening would leave optimistic about iGen/Gen Z and their willingness and ability to tackle future problems.

The middle school presentations room was overflowing.

Helping these all-volunteer nonprofits fits with exactly what we say we do as a university:

Through experiential learning, future-focused research, and an inclusive, spirited culture, Virginia Tech strives to accomplish the charge of its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Despite all the challenges of HVAC, room availability, parking lot yellow tape mazes, and 4 pizza 
deliveries (over 40 pizzas), furniture shuffling, and more, we had really, really great outcomes.

Our interns counted the following:
  • Over 70 middle and high school girls (some were in 5th grade)
  • 11 volunteers  
  • 58 parents (estimated - not all stayed)
  • 10 judges and special presenters
Of course we also heard a lot of "I didn't even realize this (campus) was here", which reveals another important outcome of these events. 

A very big thanks to the Library staff who rescued the day when we discovered the HVAC schedule after the rooms had already been booked, invitations sent, and after a scramble to find space at George Mason ran into similar challenges.

Several sponsors from regional technology companies, nonprofits and government agencies were particularly impressed by the event, and suggested follow-up projects.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Faiza finishes her first year of clinical nursing

Our intern Faiza is the master of rebuilding our electronics kits after each group of visitors.  

But she also studies nursing through her high school's nursing program, and this week is her last month of clinical studies while in high school.  When we saw here in her nursing uniform, all the interns demanded we post a photo.