STEMinars & Jr. STEMinars Interest Form

We will be continuing our popular STEMinars in early 2018. To be notified as soon as registration is live, fill out our STEMinars Interest Form

High School (11th & 12th grade) and college STEM students can take affordable courses during the school year that equip them with important skills for a STEM career. Courses offered in 2018 include Cybersecurity, Coding, Math, CAD/3D-Printing and more!

Jr. STEMinars
Students (3rd-10th grade) who want to get ahead on a STEM pathway can take our CAD/3D Printing, Coding, Raspberry Pi Arduino and Robotics courses during the school year. Junior STEMinars are educational, equipping, affordable and fun!

STEMinars – May 13 – Register Now

Our STEMinars are back!

STEMinars are engaging STEM workshops for High School and College Students.

Sign up for CAD/3D Printing and/or Coding STEMinars that will be held at the NOVA Loudoun Campus (Templin Higher Education Center) on Saturday May 13th. You can register here for one or both STEMinars.

STEMinars are $25 each. You can sign up for both for only $40, plus a free lunch. You will receive a completion certificate at the end of the session.

Click here for a one-page flyer for this event.

The CAD/3D Printing STEMinar (9am – 12pm) will focus on the following:

  • Students will be introduced to Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Students will start with a basic CAD file and modify it to be personalized
  • Students will be able to print a basic prototype or 3D model

The Coding STEMinar (1pm – 4pm) will introduce students how to utilize an Arduino Uno:

  • Students will learn how to use an Arduino to complete a project.
  • Basic electronics and circuitry will be introduced.
  • Coding or creating sketches will be introduced.

NOVA Loudoun Campus address:
21200 Campus Drive
Temple Higher Education Center
Sterling, VA 20164

Take our STEMinars! Nov 5 & 19


If you are a high school or college student our STEMinars will help you chart a pathway to earning a STEM certificate or degree. In each hands-on STEMinar session you will use industry tools and applications to increase your skills in three of the fastest growing career fields in the region.

Our CAD/3D Printing, Coding and Cybersecurity STEMinars will equip you with skills and valuable insights into the education and credentials you need to be successful in the technology workforce! STEMinars will commence on Nov 5 & Nov 19 on three NOVA Campuses. Check the session dates and times below, choose a STEMinar to engage in and register here. $25 per session.

Sat Nov 5
NOVA Annandale Campus
Ernst Community Cultural Center
9:00 AM to 1:30 PM
Sat Nov 19
NOVA Woodbridge Campus
Regional Center for Workforce Education & Training
9:00 AM to 1:30 PM

⇒ Register Here

Sat Nov 5
NOVA Woodbridge Campus
Regional Center for Workforce Education & Training
9:00 AM to 1:30 PM
Sat Nov 19
NOVA Loudoun Campus
Templin Higher Education Center
9:00 AM to 1:30 PM

⇒ Register Here

Nov 5
NOVA Loudoun Campus
Templin Higher Education Center
9:00 AM to 1:30 PM
Nov 19
NOVA Annandale Campus
Ernst Community Cultural Center
9:00 AM to 1:30 PM

⇒ Register Here

Click here for STEMinars Flyer

Visit the STEM Zone at the YFT Country Fair & Auctions! Oct 1


Looking for something to do with your kids that’s inspiring, fun and educational? We’ll be hosting the STEM Zone at the Youth For Tomorrow Country Fair & Auction in Bristow on Saturday October 1st. Don’t miss it! We’ll offer exciting games & activities that involve drones, robots, cybersecurity, programming, 3D printers, stomp rockets and more!

In addition we’ll have STEM Passports available for students who engage in all the fun! Complete one activity from each STEM category below, get a sticker for each one then enter your passport for a chance to win the grand prize!

STEM Zone activities.
Fly a drone at the ‘DroneZone’
Build and launch a Stomp Rocket
Complete a ChemClub Chemistry experiment
Complete the FBI Cyber Activity
Design and print an object on our 3D Printer
Drive robots and score baskets on our VRC basketball field
Complete a robotics activity at the ‘Explorer Post’ tent
Program an autonomous VEX IQ robot
Program and play Simon Says on a VEX IQ brain
Play ‘Flappy Bird’, a coding game

Youth For Tomorrow Campus
11835 Hazel Circle Drive
Bristol, VA 20136
10am to 5pm

For more info visit the YFT Country Fair & Auction Website
1P STEM Zone Flyer available here

Come to Loudoun STEM Day on Oct 1


Don’t miss our second annual Loudoun STEM Day at NOVA! If you love STEM then you’ll love our free showcase of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities for students of all ages. Featuring hands-on exhibits, workshops, food, fun and learning.

This event is a collaborative effort between Northern Virginia Community College, SySTEMic Solutions, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and Loudoun County Public Schools. The event is FREE and open to the public. For a list of STEM Day topics and workshops, see the Loudoun County STEM Day Website.

Saturday October 1st, 10am-4pm

Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus
Robert G. Templin, Jr. Higher Education Ctr.
21200 Campus Drive, Sterling, VA 20164

Click here for a STEM Day Flyer

AT&T, NOVA, FCPS and Fort Belvoir team up to provide STEM Camps!


$10K contribution from AT&T enables hands-on robotics and cybersecurity camps for Mt Vernon HS Students. Presentation and recognition of award to take place on July 27th at West Potomac High School in Alexandria.

{Click here to view press release on NOVA website}

In an effort to bolster STEM capacity in Northern Virginia, AT&T, Northern Virginia Community College, Fairfax County Public Schools and Fort Belvoir are partnering to provide hands-on summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camp opportunities specifically for Mt. Vernon High School students.

A $10,000 contribution from AT&T will allow NOVA’s STEM outreach program, SySTEMic Solutions, to offer robotics and cybersecurity camps for rising 9th through 12th graders from Mt. Vernon High School. For logistical reasons, the camps will be held at West Potomac High School in Alexandria from July 18-29.

There will be a special ceremony celebrating AT&T’s gift at West Potomac High School, 6500 Quander Rd., Alexandria, on July 27 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Representatives from AT&T, a ranking officer from Fort Belvoir, NOVA, NOVA SySTEMic Solutions and FCPS will attend.

This event highlights a strong collaboration and mutual support for STEM across the region. Representatives from AT&T and Fort Belvoir will be on hand to engage the campers in a discussion of the cybersecurity needs for the region and the nation and will describe how camp materials relate to those careers. The program will focus on the vital need for programming and cyber personnel in the workforce and for national defense.

NOVA has strong STEM ties in FCPS and throughout the region. The college’s SySTEMic Solutions has a designated representative that helps to increase STEM capacity through camps, competitions and professional development opportunities for teachers.  The partnership focuses on STEM needs in Fairfax, with special attention to recruiting students from underrepresented groups for the STEM workforce. In addition, NOVA has worked hard to align advance standings for those who serve our country through its veterans’ education benefits.

“Inspiring young people to engage in STEM activities is a fundamental mission of NOVA SySTEMic Solutions,” said NOVA President, Dr. Scott Ralls. “This partnership with members of the public and private sector provides not only a fun and educational way for teens to spend their summer break, but it also highlights the great need to build the next generation of STEM employees in Northern Virginia and across the nation.”

LaTara Harris, AT&T’s regional director for External Affairs in Greater Washington area, added, “At AT&T, we believe investing in a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing we can do to support a strong global economy. Our company and our nation need a capable and diverse pipeline of employees to fill 21st century jobs. Cybersecurity, robotics, and other STEM-intensive jobs are available to the students who have the kind of skills they’re gaining at the camps offered by Northern Virginia Community College.”

The robotics camp, held from July 18-22, will focus on building and programming for the VEX system. Students will build and program a robot to operate on a field by remote control and through an autonomous program. Students will learn basic computer programming in RobotC by programming a robot to complete challenges throughout the week.

The Cybersecurity camp, held from July 25-29, will provide students with knowledge and hands-on experience in cyber security and introduce them to the many career opportunities in the growing field. The camp will increase students’ knowledge of networking and computer security including cyber ethics and defense strategies, all through tutorials, hands-on activities and will culminate with a mock competition on the last day.

NOVA SySTEMic Solutions Program Manager: Josh Labrie | 703.530.2829 |

NOVA Media Contact: Kathy Thompson | 703.764.0896 |

142 STEM Camp Students on a NOVA Campus

IMG_5380Our summer STEM camps are underway and hundreds of students are engaging in STEM activities throughout Northern Virginia.

While STEM Camps are held at different locations in PWC, Fairfax, and Loudoun, (traditionally at high schools) this week has given middle and high school students a taste of something different: STEM learning on a college campus. Four of our camps are being operated on the NOVA Loudoun Campus in the state-of-the-art Higher Education Center.

From Lego EV3, VEX IQ and VEX 1 robotics to a more advanced cybersecurity camp, 142 students and their parents are engaging in STEM and walking the halls of NOVA as a backdrop to an informative and inspirational hands-on STEM experience.

Version 2Particularly for the cybersecurity students, who range from rising 9th to 12th graders, NOVA is an attractive option for continued study in STEM because it offers an A.A.S. in cybersecurity. As cyber jobs are increasingly in demand, NOVA can provide a fast-track of sorts to the workforce because a 4-year degree isn’t necessarily the only way to a cyber career.

Bradley Schwartz, President & CEO of the Blue Canopy Group, a Northern Virginia IT firm, suggested exactly this notion at the VA Cyber conference (held on NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus) last fall. He said “you don’t just need a 4-year degree, you need really smart people and practical experience.”

In addition, Senator Mark Warner stated that “a cyber career is not just for 4 year degrees or masters, but [for] community colleges and certificates.”Version 2

With this type of endorsement the potential NOVA students that attend our cyber camp can move forward with more confidence since attaining a certificate in cybersecurity is seen as a more and more viable option to fill the 17,000 vacant cyber jobs in the commonwealth. Having high school students inspired not only in cybersecurity but learning about it while on a NOVA campus is a win-win situation.

Best-selling higher education author Jeff Selingo in his book College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students says “few things matter as much in where a student eventually ends up as the campus visit. As a result, schools have increasingly tried to sell an experience on the tour rather than simply convey information.” While STEM camp is not overtly a tour for prospective students, it is an important exposure for them.

Version 2Dr. Julie Leidig, Provost at NOVA’s Loudoun Campus, emphasizes the importance of interfacing early with students to create an expectation of college simply by visiting. “We want to get kids thinking about STEM and college while they’re still young enough to be excited and less prone to feel that they have limitations. With these camps, early exposure to learning on a college campus starts to acclimatize them to college and the idea of going to NOVA for STEM education. We have a mission to build the regional STEM workforce in this community. SySTEMic Solutions is an extension of our mission.”

Many of the students we’ve engaged in STEM over the last few years are not yet in college. As they start to get to college age, our goal is to develop an effective tracking system of “camps to college to career” metrics that not only inspires STEM students but also keeps them in our regional workforce after graduation.

John Wood, CEO of Telos, a cybersecurity company in Loudoun, has a simple formula for this: “Make math and science cool,” he says. “That’s where you start.”

The NOVA Loudoun campus will also host the second annual Loudoun County STEM day on October 1. From drones to robotics to 3D printing to biotech and more, we are confident that thousands of students in Northern Virginia will find STEM cool enough to pursue as their career.

And NOVA can play a big part.

The value of Instructor Training


Every year before our summer STEM camps are underway we host instructor training to prepare teachers and students how to run our STEM camps. Instructor training week serves a dual purpose: to prep instructors with camp curriculum and operating procedures, but more importantly it expands regional STEM capacity through the professional development in STEM such as robotics, computer Science, CAD and cybersecurity.

As the STEM outreach arm of NOVA, our summer STEM camps (for 3 to 12 graders) have been active since 2009 and have increased from 48 students in the first year to over 600 this summer. Camps offered include Robotics, Rocketry, Programming, CAD-3D Printing and Cybersecurity, which are available throughout PWC, Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

During training each instructor goes through the curriculum as if they were a student taking the camp. For a robotics course that involves assembling, programming, and driving a robot. For more advanced subjects, like cybersecurity, instructors are drilled on securing open networks and operating defense techniques. For rocketry they build a rocket that will launch at the end of the camp week. This hands-on approach is essential in teaching and leads to effective instruction once camps are started.

Many of the instructors are students who have been inspired by previous STEM camps. Nate Wooley, a recent HS graduate and robotics competition veteran, wants to give back, saying “I started my robotics experience in a summer camp. It has completely reshaped my life and given me a passion that I can pursue. I have been participating in SySTEMic Solutions’ competitions and camps for 3 years now and recently won the VA VEX State Championship. Teaching for SySTEMic makes me happy that I can give other people the chance to enjoy robotics as I have.”

Another recent HS grad now engaged as a camp instructor, Cori Brodowski, also started in our summer camps and wants to help define a path for more girls in STEM. “I have always been the only teenage girl on my teaching team through the years. The most inspirational thing about this job is helping other girls get on their feet in STEM. I grew up with engineers as parents, and I’ve always excelled at math and science. I know a lot of girls don’t have that and are stereotyped as not able to do STEM careers. Working at STEM camps is a great opportunity to help girls see that they can break that stereotype and are just as capable at STEM as anyone else.”

Ryan Osweiler, an instructional technology and robotics coach at Triangle ES and one of the mainstay instructors for SySTEMic Solutions’ summer camps, is enthusiastic about what instructor training provides. “We never stop learning. I gather new ideas from coaches at training – even new ones. I enjoy seeing students who attended camp years ago come back and teach. Most of these students are in or have completed high school and/or college level robotics and bring valuable insights and knowledge.”

STEM camps and instructor training are inspirational, but NOVA is not just in the business of inspiration. Through this training we’re helping expand regional STEM capacity by providing co-curricular experience for students and teachers. But more than that NOVA has a large offering of STEM degrees and certificates through credit, adult learner and workforce development leading to careers in the regional workforce.

Visualization Sparks Movement to Transform STEM Education

Last year a movement to improve the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in the Commonwealth of Virginia began when two colleagues from the Virginia Community College System (NOVA) met over lunch. Rebecca Kamen, Professor of Art, had just received notice that she’d been awarded a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship, which would provide the latitude to test her hypothesis that a link existed between art and science. She wanted to demonstrate that scientific outcomes could be improved by looking at research through an artistic lens. Amy Harris, Director of SySTEMic Solutions, suggested Kamen test her theory by collaborating with Amy VanMeter, Director of the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP) at George Mason University (GMU).

The linking concept took root when Kamen realized that both scientists and artists use visualization techniques to depict the invisible. The visualization and depiction processes make communication of their findings possible to a wide range of audiences. One of the greatest challenges scientists face, however, is the ability to effectively describe dynamic data sets. All too often scientists produce static representations of their findings because they have not learned to visualize across multiple dimensions. Specialization further restricts the scientists’ discovery process because their work is frequently compartmentalized within a function and a single institution. Because science students and scientists rarely have the opportunity to interact with experts from other fields of study, they miss critical input from people with other viewpoints and thereby constrain their ability to innovate.

Operating within the scope of a single discipline also hinders the development of intuition—a byproduct of a repeated process of trial and success, trial and failure. Yet, intuition is a critical success factor needed by the scientific community to function at its peak. Kamen’s work creates a new context for modern students and scientists as they learn to visualize how to substantiate their discoveries and capture the essence of what they’ve learned about the invisible world in a new way. A byproduct of Kamen’s approach: Deeper insight as to what might be possible.

Recognizing the limitations artificially imposed on students and scientists spurred Harris to recommend using the ASSIP program as a means to test Kamen’s hypothesis. VanMeter welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Kamen.

Introducing Art to ASSIP

Dr. Lance A. Liotta and Dr. Emanuel F. Petricoin III launched the ASSIP program to advance STEM education in 2007. High school and undergraduate students gain hands-on research experience in the fields of Proteomics, Genomics, Medicine, Neuroscience, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biodefense, Environmental Science, Mathematical Modeling, Computer Science, Bioinformatics, Nanotechnology, Physics and Bioengineering. Competition for admittance is stiff. Only 48 of the 306 applicants made it through the vigorous screening process last year.

Kamen’s request to test her hypothesis aligned directly with the 2011 program theme—creativity and communication. VanMeter developed this theme based on employers’ and students’ most common needs. Students need to be able to apply what they’ve learned to new disciplines and effectively communicate their findings to an assortment of audiences including the executive, the layperson, and the scientist.

Kamen presented a lecture describing the intersection between art and science and then challenged the Aspiring Scientists to create art depicting the findings of their research projects. The process of creative, artistic and scientific thought is the same and this collaboration inspired students to creatively solve complex scientific research problems. At the conclusion of the program participants presented their art and scientific research projects at a professional poster session.

Inspiring the Next Generation

VanMeter asked Richard C. Conti, Director and Chief Wonder Officer of the Science Museum of Virginia if the institution would be interested judging the Aspiring Scientists’ work. Intrigued, Conti asked Frank Heller, the museum’s Manager of Artistic Development, to jury the poster session. Knowing that a team approach would offer a greater appreciation and understanding of the students’ diverse art/science presentations, Heller asked Laura Hughes, graphic designer, and David Hagan, staff scientist, to join him.

“Seeing work that was very well done by people who were not trained as artists but were able to rise to the task when science was the subject matter inspired us,” says Heller. Originally the museum had agreed to exhibit the winning piece. Given the quality of the work produced, the museum requested an opportunity to exhibit all of the students’ artwork in companion with Kamen’s three-dimensional depiction of the Periodic Table, Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden.” Because of the delicate nature of Kamen’s work, the museum chose to exhibit one sculpture in conjunction with enlarged photos of six other pieces from Divining Nature. The exhibit called Making the Invisible, Visible also includes nine small wire sculptures. It runs through August 12, 2012.

“The museum strives to create an enjoyable place for people to experience science. We want the children who come here to question their worlds and learn through the discovery process,” says Heller. “It is somewhat surprising to encounter an art gallery in a museum of hands-on science exhibits. Children are curious as to why the photographs are here. It’s not a landscape. It’s not a flower. What is it? If a child goes home to conduct a Google search for the Periodic Table, Carl Sagan, or Rebecca Kamen, we’ve been successful in piquing his or her scientific curiosity in a very meaningful way,” he concludes.

Validating Art’s Ability to Inform Scientific Visualization

Kamen followed the successful conclusion of the ASSIP experiment with a lecture series to scientists at Harvard University, the National Academy of Science, and the National Institutes of Health. Their acceptance of her work continues to validate that using art as a means to visualize scientific data can improve the way we perform science.

Kamen says, “Leading scientists at these three institutions have inherently understood the link when exposed to artwork connecting these fields in lectures. They feel compelled to explore how they can use cross-disciplinary approaches to improve their problem-solving abilities and advance their own work. As a result of these interactions, two of these institutions have requested collaboration on large-scale projects that bridge their scientists’ work to other disciplines and especially wider audiences. These projects span disciplines as diverse as Astrophysics, Biodiversity, Chemistry, Neuroscience, and Visual Learning.”

Kamen is currently in summer residence at the National Institutes of Health where she’ll challenge interns to view their work through an artistic lens, much like GMU’s ASSIP program. VanMeter has also asked Kamen to inspire Aspiring Scientists in the 2012 ASSIP program. The NIH and ASSIP interns will add a new dimension to the project—sharing insights and experiences cross-institutionally through a shared blog. In all, Kamen has made commitments to participate in 10 collaborative projects that will push her notion that art can inspire and improve the scientific experience (and outcomes) into mainstream educational thinking.

Transforming STEM Education—A Shared Vision for STEAM

What began as a hunch has proven to be a much larger vision Kamen shares with Harris, VanMeter, Heller, and others. They believe that these projects have the power to transform the academic community by making art an integral part of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) education. There’s a natural synergy across programs and campuses that Harris intends to foster.

“What Rebecca is doing is very innovative. With all of the discussion about STEM, it’s surprising that no one has tried this before. Rebecca’s work is at the forefront of discovery,” states Harris.

“SySTEMic Solutions is always trying to find ways to connect the dots for students. We hope to get Rebecca connected with the Pathway students, which will give them another perspective about what they are learning in school—from high school students to NOVA students. We also want to reach out to the K-12 school divisions and work with science and art teachers to use a multidisciplinary approach to bridge the gap early, which will lead to better science,” continues Harris.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback received to date, Kamen continues to pursue collaborative work that will lead to a paradigm shift in how STEAM is taught in the Commonwealth. A community of committed proponents is already forming to make the transition feasible. What started as a small vision discussed over lunch one day has turned into a movement that has the potential to make American education (and ultimately American businesses) more competitive.

Through it all Kamen remains very humble. She feels honored that a person without any formal scientific training (yet with a love for science) can impact the broader community to such a large degree. Today, she visualizes how an innovative STEAM Education program can ignite the curiosity in all of us.