Category Archives: STEM Resources Online

Fab Lab Activities in October

NOVA Makers 

NOVA Makers is a new program at the Fab Lab in which members can use the lab to work on personal projects, participate in regional/national design challenges, and/or gain more skills in a Maker community setting.  Membership is open to NOVA college students, faculty & staff, and high school students.  Register at 

Middle School Maker Club 

Starting Saturday, October 16th, middle school students will be able to participate in a Maker Club at the NOVA Fab Lab. The use of fabrication equipment (such as 3D printers, laser cutters, plastic thermoforming machines, etc.) in conjunction with other technologies will allow for integrative making experiences. Register at    

Bristlebots & Book Read: This is What An Engineer Looks Like 

On Saturday, October 9th from 10:30am to 12:00pm, young children will be able to build and test a motorized bristlebot, read and hear from the author of This Is What An Engineer Looks Like, and learn about STEAM careers and engineering.  The 17-year-old author and illustrator, Ayonnah Tinsley, will be participating via live stream to read and discuss her book.  Ayonnah is a Congressional Award Gold Medal recipient for her extensive volunteer efforts and STEAM awareness activities.  Her book educates young students on STEAM careers with an emphasis on encouraging women and minorities to enter STEAM fields.  Participants will receive a copy of the book and be able to take home their bristlebot.

After the session, an optional tour of the Fabrication Lab will be available.  Open to children in kindergarten through 4th grades. Cost is $45 per child or free for children of NOVA Students.  Open to the public. Pre-registration is required at   

 3D Printing Challenge – Tiny House Winner! 

Congratulations to Daniel Moone for his winning design of a 3D Printed Tiny House!  This challenge was open to all participants in four of our 3D Printing Fabrication Camps this summer.  Campers had to meet certain specifications while using CAD software to design their scaled models.  Each design was then fabricated using additive manufacturing (Stratasys F123 series 3D printers) and judged based upon the physical prototype.  Daniel received our top prize of an in-person tour of the Fab Lab, a Parallax Scribbler 3 Robot kit, and his fabricated tiny house.      

Grant News: NOVA awarded NSF ATE Grant Award – Makers By Design

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded NOVA a three-year grant, set to begin in September 2021, to establish a Professional Learning program in design thinking pedagogy for secondary and postsecondary educators. Makers By Design (MBD) as we call it, is officially titledSupporting Instructors to Embed Design Thinking in Digital Fabrication Courses.

Makers By Design Overview:

> Manufacturing and engineering technologies industries are facing a looming skills gap.

> Employers identify increasing need for soft skills (critical and design thinking, problem solving and communication) as manufacturing transitions to high-tech.

> There is a need to align engineering and engineering technology with industry defined technical and soft skills.

> MBD is a professional learning (PL) program for secondary and postsecondary educators focused on developing design thinking pedagogy through digital fabrication (e.g. 3D printing, laser engraving, CNC) techniques.

> Aligned with NSF includes broadening participation in STEM for underrepresented minorities.

> MBD will foster a community of practice between teachers, faculty, makerspace educators and industry.

The grant curriculum will focus on design thinking projects that involve digital fabrication techniques, including 3D printing, laser engraving, and Computer Numerical Control milling. The Professional Learning program is expected to improve the educator’ teaching practices and enable them to update existing curricula and lesson plans to better align with industry relevant skills and techniques. The project also intends to create a community of practice around design thinking in digital fabrication that will build a beneficial network among secondary teachers, community college faculty, makerspace educators, and regional employers. It is expected that the project will support 36 secondary and postsecondary educators who will teach more than 3,000 K-12 and undergraduate students in the northern Virginia region. These students will have greater interest in and be better prepared for technical careers in manufacturing and engineering.

The overarching goal of the project is to use Professional Learning to move digital fabrication instruction beyond the reproduction of simple objects. Instead, the project will train educators to use pedagogy and cognitive strategies to embed design thinking into their digital fabrication lessons and courses. As a result, students will learn to use design thinking to build complex, useful objects.

The project’s specific aims include to: (1) create a professional learning institute; (2) host digital fabrication summer camps at NOVA and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington; (3) host a semiannual design and digital fabrication challenge; and (4) establish an online resource library of projects and lesson plans created and refined by educators in the community of practice. The project is expected to advance: understanding of the pedagogies that help to develop student interest in manufacturing and engineering; the capacity for Professional Learning to facilitate integration of design thinking into classrooms and makerspaces; and the extent to which a capstone design challenge may foster sustainable change in instructional practices. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy.

The NOVA Fab Lab has a Makerspace utilized by many NOVA programs and the community as well as a new Makers Program for college students coming up this fall

Go to for current Fab Lab program/event registration and check out the NOVA Fab Lab Page on our website.

Outside Resources

Computer Science Instructional Resources & Professional Learning

In partnership with Prince William County Schools (PWCS), NOVA SySTEMic developed instructional resources that align with the 6th Grade Computer Science Standards of Learning.  Funding for this project was provided by the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) Advancing Computer Science Education grant that was awarded to PWCS.  Additionally, professional learning sessions were offered to educators by NOVA SySTEMic staff to introduce and guide educators through the created activities.  The resources are available to all educators on the #GoOpenVA site at . 


FAIT Fellowship for IT Honors Students

The Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship, is a two-year program funded by the U.S. Department of State and an excellent opportunity for community college honors students who are interested in pursuing an IT-related bachelor’s degree and a career in the Foreign Service.

The FAIT Fellowship provides up to $75,000 in academic funding for the junior and senior years in an IT-related bachelor’s degree, two summer internships (with stipends), professional development, and mentorship. Additionally, after successful completion of the Fellowship and the State Department’s requirements, the Fellow receives an appointment in the Foreign Service as an Information Management Specialist.

Many FAIT Fellows are community college alumni. The State Department wants to reach more community college students with this opportunity, and seeks to attract outstanding tech talent to the Foreign Service that reflects the diversity of the United States. Members of minority groups underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women and those with financial need are encouraged to apply. 

Applications for the 2022 cohort is planned to open on September 8, 2021.  Webinars and virtual info sessions will be offered throughout the fall semester. Please contact for more info and to discuss ways to spread the word to honors students.

Here are a couple of resources to learn more:


Virtual STEMinars and Fab Lab Tours this Fall

Virtual STEMinars are back! We are running virtual FAB LAB tours and info sessions and virtual workshops that include a Maker Club, a Laser Fabrication Workshop, Video Game Development and more, starting in October. Many STEMinars are HANDS-ON, as we will send you materials that you work on with an instructor virtually leading the course on Zoom.

Events and courses listed below:

LLI Fab Lab Virtual Tour & Industry 4.0
These special sessions will include images and videos of the facility, an overview of Fab Lab activities, and a presentation on Industry 4.0 (IoT).  Session options are being offered to members of the Manassas Lifelong Learning Institute on October 16th and November 13th at 10:00 am.

Register at
(must be a LLI member to register for this event).

Virtual Tour & Info Session:  NOVA Fab Lab
Would you like to learn more about the NOVA Fab Lab? Then attend this virtual tour and live information session.  You will have an opportunity to ask questions, see images and videos of lab activities, and receive an overview of Fab Lab programs. Open to the public and registration is required. Free.  November 6th from 2:00-2:45 pm.

Register here:

Virtual Maker Club
Have your kids take a break from the screen and tinker with some hands-on STEM activities.  Over the course of four weeks a weekly project will be provided that will include activities such as:  building a tiny robot, creating circuits, using a DIY conductive probe to design experiments, building a wind turbine to move objects, and completing a design challenge using items from around the house.  Directions and printed extension activities will be provided so that participants can explore at their own pace.  An optional live virtual session will be provided once a week to provide an overview, support, sharing, and assistance with extension activities.  A materials kit will be mailed, but participants will need: a Phillips screwdriver, a fan, 100 pennies, tape, scissors, liquid glue, and recycling bin materials.  Recommended for children in grades 4 – 8.  Cost $72 ($60 for NOVA staff/faculty/students). Two session options beginning October 26th andNovember 24th.

Register here:

Laser Workshop:  Design Thanksgiving Pie Toppers
Design personalized pie toppers that will then be fabricated and mailed to you.  You will learn how to design in Inkscape, a free graphics and drawing software, while learning how lasers can be used to cut and engrave. Ages 16 and older. Cost $20 ($16 for NOVA staff/faculty/students). Live virtual session on November 2nd from 7:00-9:00 pm.

Register here:

Makers by Design Challenge Series
The goal of a Maker is to produce better products – but what defines a “better product?” What is a better product in the age of Digital Fabrication? Machines might have assimilated hard skills, but the soft skills necessary for innovation have yet to be adopted.  This 4-part STEMinar and optional lab(s) addresses these concerns by identifying the soft skills required in Digital Fabrication. Topics will include: Design Thinking, brainstorming, user-empathy, rapid ideation, prototyping, and making as an iterative non-sequential process. The series will conclude with the presentation of a design challenge and competition, with the winning members’ product being fabricated in our own Fab-Lab. Open to current 9-12th graders and college students.  Sessions run from 7:00 – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, November 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th .

Registration is for all 4 sessions, while the Optional Labs have a separate registration.  FREE.

Register here:

Video Game Development using Scratch
Enhance your Scratch coding skills while developing a video game!  Participants must have prior and intermediate level experience using Scratch.  A four-session series with each session building on the previous.  For grades 6 – 9th on Wednesdays Oct. 28th, Nov. 4th, 11th, & 18th at 7:00 pm.  FREE.

Register here:




Virtual STEM Camps at-a-glance

Our Virtual STEM Camps are underway! Virtual STEM Camps are the perfect pivot from traditional in-person STEM activities to safe-at-home STEM engagement. Our curriculum includes hands-on projects with micro:bit, scratch, VEX robotics, fabrication and cybersecurity tools for elementary to high school ages students. We’re bringing STEM to you and making it affordable as a single sign-up is good for the whole family!

Virtual STEM Camp General Info:
– Camps run June 1 through August 21
– Offerings for rising 3rd through 12th Grade
– Zoom will be used as the video conferencing platform.
– Camps usually run for 5 days/90 minutes a day.
– One-week camps start at $98 plus the cost of materials.
– Instructional cost is per household, per camp. Only need to pay extra for cost of materials. You can engage with multiple laptops in the same household.
– Select camps will provide technical support prior to camp for software downloads.
– For all VEX Robotics camps and Scratch 1 & 3 (Coding) camps, sign-up closes the Sunday before the camp starts, so you can sign up one day ahead at the latest.
– For all other camps sign-up closes on Sunday the week prior to allow time for materials to be shipped, so please sign-up at least 8 days before camp starts.

Virtual STEM Camp Tracks (4): Coding, VEX Robotics, Cybersecurity, Fabrication
For detailed camp descriptions go to

CODING (Grades 3-8)

Micro:bit Level 1 $98 (additional micro:bit $30 each)
June 1-5 | 1:30pm – 3pm
June 8-12 | 9:30am – 11am
July 20-24 | 9:30am – 11am

Scratch Level 1 $98
June 1-5 | 9:30am – 11am
June 8-12 | 1:30pm – 3pm
July 27-31 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Combined Scratch/Micro:bit Level 1 $186 (additional micro:bit $30 each)
June 22-26 | 10:30am – 2:30pm

Combined Scratch/Micro:bit Level 2 $98 (additional micro:bit $30 each)
June 29-July 3 (4 days) | 9:30am – 11:30am or 1pm – 3pm
July 6-10 (4 days) | 9:30am – 11:30am or 1pm – 3pm
July 27-31 (4 days) | 9:30am – 11:30am

Micro:Maqueen Level 3 $98 (additional micro:bit and micro:maqueen cost $30 each)
July 13-17 | 9:30am – 11:30am or 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Aug 3-7 | 9:30am – 11:30am

Advanced Scratch Level 3 $98
July 20-24 | 9:30am – 11:30am or 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Aug 3-7 | 1:30pm – 3:30pm

VEX ROBOTICS (Grades 4-10)

VEX IQ Challenge Camp $196 (Grades 4-8)
June 8-12 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm
June 15-19 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm
June 29-July 3 | 10:30am – 2:30pm
July 13-17 | 10:30am – 2:30pm
July 27-31 | 10:30am – 2:30pm
Aug 10-14 | 10:30am – 2:30pm

VEX Robotics Competition Camp $196 (Grades 6-10)
June 29-July 3 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm
July 6-10 | 10:30am – 2:30pm
July 20-24 | 10:30am – 2:30pm
Aug 3-7 | 10:30am – 2:30pm


Foundations of Cybersecurity $98
June 15-19 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm
July 13-17 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm

Ethical Hacking & Digital Forensics $98
June 22-26 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm
July 27-31 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm

Network Security & Encryption $98
July 6-10 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm
Aug 3-7 | 9:30am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3pm

FABRICATION JUNIOR (Grades 4-7) – Materials and Shipping Included

Fab Junior Level 1 $148 (additional material packs $50)
June 22-26 | 9:30am – 11am
June 29-July 3 (4 days) | 1:30pm – 3:30pm
July 6-10 | 9:30am – 11am
July 13-17 | 1:30pm – 3pm
July 20-24 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Fab Junior Level 2: 3D Printing $123 (additional material packs $25)
July 27-31 | 9:30pm – 11am

Fab Junior Level 2: Laser Cutting/Engraving $123 (additional material packs $25)
Aug 3-7 | 9:30am – 11am
Aug 10-14 | 1:30pm-3pm

Fab Junior Level 3: CNC Routing Made Easy $123 (additional material packs $25)
Aug 17-21 | 1:30pm – 3pm

FABRICATION SENIOR (Grades 8-12) – Materials and Shipping Included

Fab Senior Level 1 $163 (additional material packs $65)
June 22-26 | 1:30pm – 3pm
June 29-July 3 (4 days) | 9:30am – 11:30am
July 6-10 | 1:30pm – 3pm
July 13-17 | 9:30am – 11am
July 20-24 | 9:30am – 11am

Fab Senior Level 2: 3D Printing $123 (additional material packs $25)
July 27-31 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Fab Senior Level 2: Laser Cutting/Engraving $123 (additional material packs $25)
Aug 3-7 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Fab Senior Level 2: E-Textiles $123 (additional material packs $25)
Aug 10-14 | 9:30pm – 11am
Aug 17-21 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Fab Senior Level 3: Engineering Challenge $246 (additional material packs $50).
July 27-Aug 7 (10 days)  | 9:30am – 11am

Upcoming Virtual STEMinars

We have launched Virtual STEMinars, led by STEM staff and faculty, so you never have to distance yourself from project-based learning! Most of these video-recorded or virtually live sessions are offered for free and cover a broad range of STEM topics. Sessions include introductions to design software, computer programming, electronics such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi, 3D scanning, makerspace/fabrication equipment, robotics, and more.

STEMinars are designed to be an online resource for the community and will walk you through sample projects and design challenges so that you can develop STEM skills. Registration is required at least 24 hours before a session starts. Sessions run 30-60 minutes depending upon age level and topic.

NOVA staff are working remotely to make additional STEMinars available in the coming months so be on the lookout for new offerings on our website and social media.

Upcoming STEMinars

STEMinar: Cybersecurity Workshops – Free
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:00-12:50pm starting March 19 through April 16
Check out our popular virtual Cyber Workshops, presented in partnership with ISACA and NOVA faculty and staff. All sessions have different topics and speakers and are recorded for future playback. Topics include Continuity of Operations for the Home, Personal Security Tradecraft, Cyber for High School Students, Teachers, & Parents, and more.

> Register Now

For videos from past workshops click here

Intro to Programming with Python – Free
Wednesdays 4/8, 4/15, 4/22, 4/29 at 2pm
Python is a programming language used to develop software on the web and in app form, including mobile. It’s easy to learn, and can be used to process text, display numbers or images, solve scientific equations, and save data.

Intro to Python: Mad Libs (I/O, variables) – 4/8
Learn about basic keyboard input, terminal output, and variables by writing a simple Mad Libs game.

Python Branching: Text Adventure Game (if/elif/else) – 4/15
Explore how to make decisions on the fly with if/elif/else statements in order to create a simple text adventure game.

Python Looping: Guessing Game (repetition) – 4/22
Examine and use ‘while’ loops to have your user guess a random number until they run out of tries or get it correct. We’ll explore the dynamics of user feedback as well as scoring.

Python Collections: Hangman (managing lots of items) – 4/29
After a brief intro to Python’s built-in list collection, we’ll use these data structures to implement a simple version of the classic word-guessing game Hangman.

> Register Now

Bubbles & Math: Design a 3D Printed Bubble Wand – $15 for Project Kit
Thursday 4/9 (10am) & Tuesday 4/21 (7pm)
Participants design a bubble wand in TinkerCAD and then their design is 3D printed and shipped! An instructor will guide the participant step-by-step through the process of designing in TinkerCAD via recorded video or live webinar. TinkerCAD is a free, user friendly computer aided design software that allows for the design of 3D structures.  Final bubble wand designs will be sent to the instructor for 3D printing.  Then, the custom bubble wands and supplemental learning resources will be mailed to participant.  Additionally, participants will learn about calculating the dimensions of a circle (circumference and radius) and factors affecting the surface tension of a liquid.

Learning Outcomes – Participants will be able to:
(1) Design a bubble wand in TinkerCAD.
(2) Calculate the circumference and radius of a circle.
(3) Describe factors that affect the surface tension of a liquid.

 > Register Now

Introduction to SketchUp – Free
Thursday 4/23 (7pm) & Friday 5/8 (2pm) 
SketchUp is a premier 3D design software that truly makes 3D modeling for everyone, with a simple to learn yet robust toolset that empowers you to create whatever you can imagine.

> Register Now

Robotics Competitions: A Strategic Approach – Free
Mondays 4/13, 4/20, 4/27, 5/4 (4-5pm) – VEX IQ
Wednesdays 4/15, 4/22, 4/29, 5/6 (4-5pm) – VEX VRC
Learn how to start the robotics season right! Afnan Ali, a world champion roboticist, will spend an hour each week working through game strategy. Participants will learn how to analyze and breakdown previous year’s games as well as document strategies that lead toward successful robot prototypes. This introduction on how to apply the engineering design process to competitive robotics is a great introduction for students, parents and mentors. Suitable for ages 10 and up.

 > Register Now

LED Emojis & Electric Circuits – $15 for LED Emoji Project Kit
Monday 4/13 (10am) & Monday 4/27 (7pm)
Learn about basic circuitry through the amazing world of sewable electronics with this hands-on STEM Challenge. In this project, participants create a light up emoji with conductive thread and sewable electronic components. An instructor will guide the project via a recorded video or live webinar. All materials and support resources will be directly shipped to participant before the live webinar (or video access).

Learning Outcomes – Participants will be able to:
(1) Build a basic circuit that includes a switch and LED.
(2) Describe a short circuit and electrical conductivity.

> Register Now

Cloud Computing Series – Free
Mondays 4/20, 4/27, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18, 5/25 (12pm)

Session 1: Cloud Computing 101
4/20/20 12pm
In this session, we will discuss the basics every general user should know about the cloud. We will debunk cloud computing myths and go over the fundamentals of Cloud Computing.

Session 2: Cloud Computing Models
4/27/20 12pm
In this session, we will discuss the cloud options every business leader should know when considering the cloud as a business solution. We will review and discuss the differences between the four types of Cloud Deployments (i.e., Public and Private) and three Service Models (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS).

Session 3: Cloud Computing Roles and Responsibilities
5/4/20 12pm
In this session, we will discuss the primary cloud roles and responsibilities every student and technology professional should know. We will review the key roles, responsibilities, career paths, competencies, and certifications.

Session 4: Cloud Computing Services and Capabilities
5/11/20 12pm
In this session, we will discuss the primary services and capabilities that all IT students, professionals, and leaders should know. We will review AWS Core Services and Capabilities.

Session 5: Cloud Computing Security Framework Fundamentals
5/18/20 12pm
In this session, we will discuss the Cloud Security, Compliance, and Risk fundamentals that all IT and Cybersecurity Students, professionals, and leaders should know. We will review Security Control Frameworks, Risk Management Frameworks, the fundamentals of Legal/Regulatory Compliance, and the key AWS Security Services.

Session 6: Cloud Computing Architecture
5/25/20 12pm
In this session, we will discuss the fundamentals of designing cloud architectures that all IT and Cybersecurity Students, professionals, and leaders should know. We will review the fundamentals of cloud solution architecture, AWS Well-Architected Framework,  and the AWS Architecture Tools and best practices.

 > Register Now

STEMinar: Introduction to Inkscape – Free
April 14 (7pm) & April 30 (7pm)
This session provides an overview of the free software program called Inkscape, which helps the user transform ideas into a digital representation, which can then be converted to a physical product.

> Register Now 

STEMinar: 3D Scanning – Free
April 14 (7pm) & May 1 (7pm)
3D scanning allows users to copy real objects for editing on software. Learn about the present and future possibilities of 3D modeling. We’ll discuss the current technologies such as Photogrammetry and 3D scanners and more emergent technologies such as NeRF (Neural Radiance Fields). 

> Register Now 

Build a Solar Car – $25 for Solar Car Project Kit
Friday 4/17 (10am) & Friday 5/1 (10am)
Participants will build a solar car with a 3D printed chassis (car frame) that they designed in TinkerCAD.  An instructor will guide the participant step-by-step through the process of designing in TinkerCAD via recorded video or live webinar on April 17th.  TinkerCAD is a free, user friendly Computer Aided Design software that allows for the design of 3D structures.  Final solar car chassis designs will be sent to the instructor for 3D printing.  Then, the 3D printed chassis, solar car parts, and supplemental learning resources will be mailed to participant to build their car!

Learning Outcomes – Participants will be able to:
(1) Design a solar car chassis in TinkerCAD.
(2) Build a working solar car.
(3) Describe how a solar panel generates electricity.

> Register Now


Free Online STEM Resources

Keep Young Minds Engaged!
While your kids are at home indefinitely, check out these free online STEM resources that can help keep them stay engaged in STEM learning. Click on title for website: Courses  Computer Science K-college
Tinkercad Codeblocks Coding 3-12
Teach Engineering Engineering K-12
PBS Design Squad Engineering 6-8
Khan Academy STEM PreK-12
PBS Education STEM K-12
PBS Learning Media Math for Kids Math K-12
Smithsonian Science Education Center STEM K-8
PHET Math & Science Interactive Simulations  Science & Math K-college
NASA Education Activities STEM K-12
Rasmussen College- 11 Simple STEM Activities STEM PreK-5
Study Island Science & Math K-12
Science Buddies STEM PreK-5
K12 Science & Math K-12