Thursday, December 19, 2019

Resources for Learning to Program in New Languages

This is a collection of resources for teachers, students, parents and others to learn programming in a variety of languages, context and media.

Free Resources

  • A Byte of Python
    • Free online book for beginners learning to code. You can choose to download it for free as a PDF or spend money for a hard copy.
  • Android Developers
    • Official site for Android app developers. Learn how to build your first Android app with detailed online coding tutorials and training courses.
    • provides learning materials specifically dedicated to increasing the rates of female and minority students entering computer science careers. Their free coding courses are designed for K-12 students, but can be useful to all ages. Start out with their quick Hour of Code tutorials, or build projects in lab courses.
  • Student 
    • A youthful resource for finding online courses or local classes. Includes games and activities.
  • CodeAbbey
    • A collection of beginner-to-advanced practice problems that allow you to earn certificates and hone your skills. Consider it a type of fun homework.
  • Codeacademy
    • Ryan Hanna’s alma mater is helping educate the world in programming; choose from a catalog of courses that meet your learning needs and get coding.
  • CodeEval
    • See how you stack up against other coders with a large library of dynamic coding challenges while building a profile and attracting the attention of programmer-seeking companies.
  • CodeFights
    • Explore programming in your preferred coding language and on your own time. Whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours, Code Fights allows you to practice for job interviews, play arcade-style coding games, and compete in screen-to-screen challenges
  • Coderbyte
    • Choose a coding language and solve challenges; accompanying solutions and tutorials help you cement crucial programming skills with step-by-step instructions
  • CodeWars
    • A great resource to train yourself, collaborate with others, and create in a variety of programming languages.
  • Command Line Power User
    • A handy video series for web developers learning how to interact with computer programs.
  • Conquering the Command Line
    • Free online book by Mark Bates that goes very in-depth. You can purchase hard copy or screencasts.
  • CSS-Tricks
    • Goes very thoroughly into CSS with their big, bad CSS almanac. However, the blog now goes beyond just CSS and talks about other things like Sass, JavaScript, PHP, and more. Explore tons of resources and check out their code snippets.
  • Cybrary
    • Free crowd-sourced cybersecurity and IT learning videos. Covers topics like computer and forensics, cryptography, and cyber threat intelligence.
  • Dataquest
    • Hands-on free coding courses that teach you the skills you need to become a data scientist, data analyst, or data engineer. Build projects in your browser and work on real-life data science problems.
  • David Walsh Blog
    • Web developer Walsh shares a host of programming tutorials in addition to sharing demos and info about coding conferences.
  • Derek Banas Blog
    • A single video per language. Good for viewers who like longer but more thorough videos instead of bite-sized chunks, or want to watch overview videos of languages before diving into courses/curriculums.
  • Edabit
    • Bite-sized coding challenges that simulate what programming is like in the real world.
  • EdX  (Professional certificates at a cost)
    • Students choose from an extensive collection of self-paced computer science courses fueled by university curriculum — it was founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012.
  • EliteDataScience
  • Eloquent Javascript

Resources with Fees

  • Bitbucket   ($10 per month), free plans available
    • Collaborative; works in conjunction with Git to help programmers work jointly on projects.
  • Code Avengers  ($29 per month; $150 for six months)
    • Project-based learning tools for creating and real-life problem solving, tailored to your own individual programming path. Build websites, apps, or games, this resource has helpful lessons, quizzes, and They even provide an educational environment for junior coders.
  • Computer Science for Babies  (prices vary)
    • A book series designed to help your little ones make connections to computer science principles
  • Coursera (prices vary)
    • Coursera is one of the best places to learn to code for free, with its professional and versatile course options. The site is a large online course library where classes are taught by real university professors. All courses are free of charge, but you have the option to pay for a “Coursera Verified Certificate” (prices range between $30-$100) to prove course completion. Sometimes paying for a certificate also grants access to content not available in the free versions. Coursera also offers “Specializations,” which are collections of courses on a specific topic, typically with a capstone project at the end.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Handy Career Exploration Resources

Below are some of the most accessible, free tools to support your journey, wherever you are, in the world of work. 

  1. Career Planning Tools for Virginia 

    1. Virginia Career View - LINK - The Virginia Career View site is provided by Virginia Tech that serves as a hub of resources for K-12 students, parents and educators   
    2. Virginia Career Wizard - LINK - The state of Virginia’s comprehensive guide for students, veterans and those already in the workforce, this site connects users to career coaches, planners and various assessments. 
    3. Virginia CTE Resource CenterLINK - The Virginia CTE Resource Center maintains the Career Planning Guide (CPG) for the Virginia Department of Education.  All 16 recognized career clusters ( LINK) and 28 academic subjects (LINK) are represented. 

  1. Job-Search Tools

    1. Indeed - LINK - With a very user-friendly site, Indeed ranks among the most popular job search engines.  
    2. Glassdoor - LINK - Glassdoor aggregates reviews that employees generate about their workplaces and allows job searches to search openings according to organization ranking.  
    3. Ladders - LINK - The Ladders is the #1 career site for jobs paying $100K +
    4. LinkedIn - LINK - The #1 networking site for professionals, LinkedIn also advertises jobs with streamlined applications. 
    5. Monster - LINK - A popular job search engine that also features free resume assessments.   
    6. Zip Recruiter - LINK - This search engine links users with recruiters who support job hunting.  
    7. Craigslist - LINK - A range of employers advertise gig, part time and full time employment opportunities.   

  1. Federal Government 

    1. O-NET Database - LINK - The nation's primary source of occupational information, the O*NET Program offers guides on starting or changing careers, professional assessment instruments and a wealth of data. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Hill's Diversity Matters Summit

9th grader Kaleia joins Qualcomm's Susie Armstrong in representing us on Capitol Hill:

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Updated FLL Schedule (9:45am)

Nova Labs Robotics FIRST Lego at Thinkabit

Saturday, 10/26/2019  9am.

The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) introduces students ages 9-14 to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a 4 ft x 8 ft playing surface that changes each year to match a real world challenge theme.
  • Design, build, test and program autonomous robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology
  • Apply real-world math and science concepts
  • Research challenges facing today’s scientists
  • Learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills
  • Participate in tournaments and celebrations
FLL teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society.  What FLL teams accomplish is nothing short of amazing. It’s fun. It’s exciting. And the skills they learn will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How to use Micro:Bits like a MaKey MaKey

from Makerbus (just acquired Micro:bit):

A micro:bit is a tiny, programmable computer made by the BBC and it retails for under $25 CDN! With the weaker Canadian dollar a single MaKey MaKey sells for around $75 these days. That means for the price of one MaKey MaKey, you could buy three micro:bits!
The micro:bit website is filled with downloadable programs for the tiny computer. One program allows you to create a “banana keyboad,” aka a MaKey MaKey. Simply download the script, attached a few alligator clips to the micro:bit, and voilà, you have just made a much more affordable MaKey MaKey!
If you own a micro:bit and want to try this experiment, you can find the instructions here.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Part-time Instructor Positions

We have two part-time positions (6 to 24 hours/week) open at our Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center campus next to West Falls Church Metro Station (Orange Line).   Our Thinkabit engineering education lab serves over 7000 Washington, D.C. area school-age students, teachers, administrators, parents, and other visitors in technical career exploration and hands-on, early exposures to microelectronics, programming, and 5G IOT and Smart Cities technologies. 

We also lead regional and international teacher professional development programs in STEM and STEAM education.

These are hourly positions ranging from $20 to $35/hour depending on experience, licensure, and skills.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Virginia STEM Essay Contest

Seal of the Commonwealth of VirginiaGovernor Northam and Virginia Council on Women Announce 9th Annual STEM Essay Contest

Governor and First Lady Northam to serve as honorary co-chairs

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Council on Women today announced the 9th Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for young women in their senior year of high school.

“As we build the workforce we need to compete in a 21st century economy, we must step up our efforts to encourage young women across Virginia to explore their interests in innovative industries like science, technology, math, and engineering,” said Governor Northam. “This annual essay contest is a tremendous opportunity to reward some of the Commonwealth’s brightest young women and open new doors for girls seeking to pursue their educational and professional goals in these high-demand fields.”

The STEM Essay Contest was launched in 2012 with 170 young women from across the Commonwealth submitting essays focused on their vision for pursuing a STEM career. In the first

Saturday, August 24, 2019

New Justice HS STEM Lab

This was the last week of work for many of our remaining high school and undergraduate interns, and our partner/collaborator Lisa Gunther invited them to help build out the new maker space in the Library/Media Center of Justice HS, one of the most interesting and famously diverse schools in the country (featured in National Geographic magazine), and the school many of our interns attend. It was a great way to end their Summer.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Boolean Girls Recognized

from ArlNow:

Arlington based-startup Boolean Girl won a contest held in New York City last week judged by Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec.

The Small Biz Challenge, hosted by The UPS Store and Inc. Magazine, tests startup founders like Boolean’s Ingrid Sanden on how quickly they can respond to a range of business-related challenges. As the grand winner, Sanden took home $12,000 and will receive some additional publicity in Inc.
Sanden’s company sells classroom kits that help get girls interested in coding, and she says the prize money will help launch a new add-on kit to teach girls about how to program sensors — like motion sensors. So far, she said the company has received good feedback: “kids are pretending that they’re spies and building all kinds of spy-catchers with their sensor kit.”

Last week’s contest required Sanden to win a game of five questions which she says was “nerve-wracking” but credited her experience as a violinist to helping be comfortable under pressure.
One question that helped her win required her to respond to a good tweet and a bad Yelp review as a business owner in less than 30 seconds. The other was the final question, which required her to

Friday, July 26, 2019

Interesting STEM Job openings

from Kaye Storm (be sure to click "More..." at the bottom of this post to see the whole list):

Stanford University has an opening for Associate Director of Biosciences Diversity Programs. The Office of Graduate Education (OGE) in the School of Medicine provides centralized programs, services, and advocacy that empower all Biosciences PhD and masters students and the faculty and staff who support them in order to enhance the training experience. We promote the development of community and personal resilience through a lens of diversity, inclusion and equity.  We work to diversify the Biosciences through outreach and training.  The Associate Director of Biosciences Diversity Programs (Student Services Officer 3) will provide leadership for diversity and inclusion focused initiatives within the Office of Graduate Education that meet the needs of diverse PhD and Masters students in the biosciences, and engage with partners within the School, across Stanford and externally to develop, identify, and disseminate best practices for fostering inclusion in graduate education. The Associate Director will directly administer the Biosciences ADVANCE Summer, Academic Year, and Undergraduate Institutes—comprehensive year-round programs aimed at promoting the professional, academic, and

Friday, February 1, 2019

New Fort Belvoir Army Museum

We're fortunate to have a growing relationship with Fort Belvoir and specifically the US Army Historical Society. Their museum will have an important STEM education opportunity to explore the history of technology.

PHOTOS: ‘America’s Army museum’ begins taking shape at Fort Belvoir | WTOP


  1. The National Museum of the U.S. Army will include 185,000 feet of artifacts, documents and exhibit space. (WTOP/Kristi King)