Category Archives: STEM Outreach

NOVA STEM Day Returns!

Story by NOVA IET’s STEM Writer Kristy Gillespie

NOVA STEM Day, a staple at Northern Virginia Community College from 2015 to 2019, returned this year on December 2nd at the Loudoun Campus Higher Education Center.

STEM Day showcases a range of engaging activities and interactive exhibits for children from 5-12 to inspire an early interest in STEM. This year, after a 4-year absence, the community’s enthusiasm for the event was evident, with over 350 people, including parents and children, in attendance.

One of the event’s highlights was the Science Stunt Show presented by NVCC’s Dean of Science, Mike Davis, affectionately known as “Mr. Wizard,” who fondly referred to the kids as “future scientists.” At the beginning of one of the experiments, Davis humorously asked for donations of money. He then proceeded to coat the money in a protective chemical before seemingly burning it during the demonstration. The show featured a variety of experiments, ranging from exploding powders to glowing liquids, liquid nitrogen, dry ice, and more. The room was filled with enthusiastic families, with laughter, applause, and excitement, children hopping in their seats, exclaiming “do it again!”

Cliff Li, accompanied by his 10-year-old daughter Rosie and 7-year-old son Howard, expressed after the Science Stunt Show, “It’s been a lot of fun. It makes learning more effective and is beneficial for parents. Kids often have a hard time focusing, but my 7-year-old son, Howard, managed to focus for over twenty minutes. It’s a great program.” Howard shared that his favorite part of the show was the water and spray lighter rocket, while Rosie said, “I look forward to my science teachers doing experiments like this!”

There were numerous additional NOVA-hosted activities. These included NOVA SySTEMic, where students engaged in activities such as driving a VEX IQ or a VRC robot, building and racing their own wooden cars, learning coding with Awbie, playing Tangram games, and exploring information about upcoming 2024 summer STEM camps. The Labs Maker School allowed students to construct and test their own sail cars powered by wind. The Psychology Department offered sessions where students delved into how the brain processes sensory information, while the Math Department provided an opportunity for students to create geometric artwork using equations, among other activities.

The event also featured participation from the Loudoun County Public Library, George Washington University Information Technology, the Children’s Science Center Lab, and the Pigeon Bots Robotic Team.

Simultaneously, various NVCC departments hosted events at the Loudoun Science Building. In the Biology Department, students explored the anatomy of a dissected shark and various shark-related objects. They were also invited to examine numerous biological models, specimens, and skeletal displays. The Chemistry Department showcased chemical reactions and volcanic experiments, while Geology offered an exhibit featuring earth science materials and equipment. Horticulture provided a hands-on project where students constructed their own bee houses. The Veterinary Department provided insight into the care techniques employed by veterinary technicians. Additionally, utilizing principles of physics and engineering, students in the Physics Department built and floated their own boats and engaged in racing soda can cars using electrostatic force.

Lots of parents and children were excited about the return of STEM Day. One parent, Alison Entis, joined by her 11-year-old son Thomas, said, “I would love to see them organize more activities and events like this.” Thomas added, “It’s been really fun learning about new things. My favorite part was building a wind car, placing it in front of a fan, and testing it.”

Ying Li, another parent shared her feedback: “I prefer my kids to learn about science. I encouraged my friends to come to this event. I love it.” Li brought along her 11-year-old son Jayden and her 10-year-old son Lawrence.

Another enthusiastic parent, Tina Karja said, “It’s been amazing. My 5-year-old daughter Rosie is having a great day. She’s fascinated by the interactive lectures and hands-on activities.”

Seven-year-old Max Bean, attending with his family, shared, “I think people should come here. I love science, math, and learning about animals like wild cats.”

The STEM Day organizers acknowledged the numerous supportive participants and eagerly anticipated next year’s event.Natasha Schuh-Nuhfer, NOVA’s STEM Education Coordinator, said, “STEM Day at the Loudoun campus would not have been made possible without the amazing NOVA faculty, staff, and student volunteers who gave their time on a Saturday to excite the youth in the community to the joys and wonder of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter from kids and parents alike as they explored the hands-on activities provided by NOVA faculty as well as outside exhibitors was a great way to begin the month of December and close out 2023. We look forward to 2024 and an even bigger STEM Day at NOVA’s Loudoun campus!”

Part of STEM Day’s significance is early engagement that leads to further educational pathways in STEM. Students who enjoyed STEM Day and are eager for more exploration can be signed up this January for NOVA SySTEMic’s summer STEM Camps, running next June through August. Camps will include Robotics, Coding, Rocketry, Arduino, Cybersecurity, Fabrication, and more and will have offerings for rising 4th through 12th graders.

Sign up for the NOVA IET monthly newsletter at to get up-to-date information on STEM Camp registration and upcoming STEM Days!