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STEAM Opportunities for Fairfax County Youth

National Children's Museum Camp Dream Out Loud

Young innovators—unite! This July, the National Children’s Museum is assembling future scientists, innovators, and tinkerers to experiment online. Discover and learn with their educators as you build machines, experiment with colors, explore outer space, and hone our animal survival skills. Learn more. 

SciFest All Access in July

SciFest All Access is coming to you virtually this summer!  Register now and stay tuned for more information on this exciting program!  

At SciFest All Access, attendees of all ages can engage directly with our sponsors and exhibitors to experience 100+ virtual STEM activities! This FREE virtual event will be a graphical depiction of the live Festival to include exhibitor booths, pavilions, and lounges with demonstrations, videos, games, and more.

If your organization is interested in exhibiting at SciFest All Access, please contact us here. 

Educators, please relay the exciting opportunity to students and parents before the summer break, so they have access to this fun, educational, and inspiring program! There is no cost to attend!

NCS Virtual Activities Including STEAM

The Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Community Centers and Teen Centers
recently launched NCS Connects (#NCSconnects), undefinedFairfax County’s first virtual programming platform specifically for youth and teens of all abilities in grades 1-12.

NCS Connects features original, self-directed activities and videos led by familiar staff members, and on-demand resources for kids and parents in five categories: adapted virtual learning, culture, academics, health and wellness, and STEAM.

When NCS centers closed their doors in March due to COVID-19, it was only a matter of weeks before youth members began asking staff when they could come back. Not knowing when that might be, NCS knew they needed a different way to reach teens – and fast. With the recent announcement that Fairfax County summer camps are cancelled, the need for virtual NCS programming has become even more immediate. Read more.


Jumpstart your summer learning with NVCC

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is launching a new summer schedule of tuition-free online classes for approximately 70,000 qualified Northern Virginia high school students. This is an opportunity for rising seniors through graduating seniors to JumpStart their summers and earn college credit by attending up to two online courses that will run from June 1 to July 15.

The online courses have been selected because they fulfill not only NOVA degree requirements but also transfer to most colleges and universities. A STEAM course in cloud computing is included.

Read more.

FCPA Virtual Exploration Center

Fairfax County Park Authority Virtual Exploration Center is a collection of resources to help you stay healthy, connected and engaged while our parks are closed. Science and Nature activities and information, Health and Wellness and Culture and History are the categories included. This page will be updated regularly, so check back often for new resources.

For new ideas and updates on content, follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @fairfaxparks.

Local Student Names Mars Rover

NASA's next rover to Mars will bear the mark of a local seventh grader, Alexander Mather of Lake Braddock Secondary School, when it is launched in summer 2020. Mather chose the name Perseverance for the rover.

Mather was chosen to pick the new rover's name in the latest "Name the Rover" essay contest, which drew 28,000 entries from K-12 students around the U.S. A public vote with over 770,000 responses decided the winner. Read more.

Perseverance is a robotic scientist weighing just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms). The rover’s mission includes taking readings of the planet's climate and geology and collecting samples of Martian rocks and dust, all to pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Read more.

Early Literacy Helps Children Learn - Including STEAM

Fairfax county Public Library (FCPL) has resources that can help parents help their young children develop the skills needed for school readiness by preparing them to learn to read and write. Early literacy - what children know about communication and language before they can actually read and write - is the subject of a comprehensive website of resources for parents and teachers to help young children become ready for school. The site, called simply Early Literacyincludes lists of books, videos, songs and more, by topic. Many STEAM topics are on the list and STEAM kits, which include books and activities, are featured. These resources can aid parents inspire the love and excitement of learning in their children. More information

FLEET Engineering Game for the Classroom

FLEET is an engaging engineering game for students 8-18 years old that provides the opportunity for a nationwide naval engineering competition for middle and high school students. The competition is virtual but is accompanied by live events. All lessons connect FLEET to instruction in English, Math, and Science classes and most materials are accessible to English language learners.

Teachers appreciate FLEET because it teaches physical science and the engineering design process while engaging students in real-world learning. Students love FLEET because it's fun and requires applying science concepts they understand. Read more

Free game download

NOVA Does STEM at the Fab Lab

NOVA's first STEM Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab), located at the Manassas Campus, will support NOVA academic programs and also provide a unique area where individuals and groups can create and collaborate! Projects, courses, and events (field trips, competitions, and private events) will be offered to K-12 students, teachers and community members. Additionally, the lab will be available for use during "open lab" sessions.

The lab features work spaces with 3D printers, a 3D scanner, a laser engraver, a plastic thermoforming center, a large format CNC router, a mini desktop CNC router, a CNC wire bender, computerized sewing machines, a full woodworking shop, as well as ... Read more

  • Go to Find Opportunities to see Fab Lab community workshops in March and April posted in the Calendar.

Scott Kelly: I Was a Bad Student Who Became an Astronaut. Let’s Stop Telling People They Can’t Be Good at Science.

Since I’ve returned from spending a year in space, I’ve been traveling the world sharing my experiences. I’ve been surprised by one of the things I’ve heard from audiences: that they believe science is too difficult, too complex for a normal person to comprehend … I’m here to tell you that’s not true.
Read more.

FCPS Students Win Parsons Challenge

Students from Oakton High and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology were named winners in the final round of the Parsons Technology Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Parsons, a leading technology company. Students were asked to develop a program based on the following challenge: “What next-gen idea do you have to make your world a better place? Identify ways technology can be applied to solve problems at home, school, or in your community.”  Read more.

Women Scientists Recognized in Dallas Art Installation

Did you know that less than half a dozen statues of real American women exist outdoors in main parks or downtown areas across the nation?⁠ Taking a step to correct this oversight, STEM empowerment nonprofit If/Then is installing the most statues of women ever assembled in one location at one time. On May 1, NorthPark in Dallas will host a unique exhibit featuring life-size 3D-printed statues of more than 120 female scientists. The display is part of a $25 million program by Lyda Hill Philanthropies to bring more visibility to the work of female scientists and to inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM. Read more

The Census is for Everyone!

We all count! Grandparents count, newborns count and everyone you’ve seen today counts. If you’ve lived in the country only a few weeks or for your entire life, you count. Everyone in Fairfax County counts. Everyone living in your household on April 1 needs to get counted as part of the 2020 Census.

Do you need assistance or a quiet place to fill out your 2020 Census Form? Every Fairfax County Public Library and Community, Teen and Senior Center has computers for you to use to respond to the Census. Find libraries. Find community centers.

More information about what the 2020 Census means for Fairfax County.

River Otters in Fairfax County

Look closely and you'll see a river otter in this short video clip. The otter was seen below the outfall at the advanced wastewater treatment plant in Lorton. The return of this aquatic mammal is testament to the quality of the treated effluent discharged from the plant, which cleans 40 million gallons of dirty water each day.


New and Improved TechLab @ Sherwood Library

On Saturday, January 25, 2020, the new TechLab at the Sherwood Regional Library had its grand opening. It’s a new workshop space with lots of tools and resources for all ages such as sewing machines, microscopes, soldering kits and iPads.  The Sherwood Tech Lab is a place for customers to enjoy hands-on learning with a variety of high-tech and low-tech equipment and activities. The TechLab was made possible by the generosity of the Friends of the Sherwood Regional Library.

Girl Scouts and STEAM

Girl Scouts do amazing things every day. They might start a self confidence-boosting movement, help protect the environment, and make their communities better in more ways than we can count. From planetarium art to robotics, dog sledding to knot making, Daisies, Brownies and Girl Scouts have all kinds of adventures. Annual camporees, travel adventures and an annual national event are all open and available to Girls Scouts and their families. Starting in Kindergarten and going through 12th grade, girls of all ages can join the fun of Girl Scouts!

At Girl Scouts, girls get to lead their own adventures and team up with other girls to choose the exciting, hands-on activities that interest them most. Along the way, girls gain important skills in four areas that form the foundation of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: 

  • Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Outdoors
  • Life Skills
  • Entrepreneurship

Learn more.

Miss America is a Scientist!

Miss Virginia Camille Schrier, a 24-year-old biochemist from Richmond studying to earn a doctor of pharmacy degree at Virginia Commonwealth University, was crowned 2020 Miss America on December 20. She certainly stole the show during the talent portion by putting on a chemistry demonstration.  
“Science is all around us! I’ve loved science since I was a little girl,” she said, dressed in a white lab coat. “It’s my mission to show kids that science is fun, relevant and easy to understand.”
She then poured potassium iodide into three separate flasks that contained concentrated hydrogen peroxide, food coloring and dish soap. “What we are about to watch is the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide,” she said. “But be careful! Don’t try this at home.” Foam started pouring out everywhere. The judges were in awe.
Read more.

Shark Tank Technology Challenge

Are you an innovator? A problem solver? Then the 2020 Shark Tank Technology Challenge is for you! The challenge asks Fairfax County high school students to develop an innovative, user-friendly device or other solution that will have a positive impact in the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, or caregivers. Many such adults struggle to live comfortably in a world that changes quickly, often in ways that don't accommodate their specialized needs. The Shark Tank Technology Challenge seeks young innovative entrepreneurs who can design practical products for these adults.

Learn more about this tremendous opportunity.

Youth Voice in the Digital Age

How can young people be prepared to navigate an increasingly connected world? How can the digital natives of today create the vibrant society we desire for tomorrow? And how can we foster connection instead of division in the Digital Age? The Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) has announced a new grant opportunity that seeks to answer these questions—and more—by exploring individual and collective well-being in the Digital Age. SCE envisions a world where the Digital Age enhances, rather than hinders, individual and collective well-being; a world that fosters connection instead of division. Through this grant initiative, we will support approaches that spark youth agency and help young people develop the mindset, skills, and knowledge to thrive in the Digital Age. This grant opportunity is open to nonprofit organizations that serve youth ages 12-18.

SCE is seeking to support programs, initiatives or campaigns that respond to the following Challenge: How can young people inspire their peers to use technology in healthy ways and make digital spaces better for everyone?

More information

Update! NASA OPSPARC 2020 Contest for Students

Mission Sun and Mission Earth rolling out in early 2020! Learn more.

Do you want to “Be the Spark” for NASA and help change the world using technology? NASA's ​OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge (OPSPARC) lets students channel their inner entrepreneur and solve the world’s problems by creating their own spinoff technologies. NASA spinoffs start out as technologies with a specific purpose but can convert into something entirely different. Space technologies can be modified into everyday products found in homes, schools and businesses. 

NASA has created four new missions that connect technologies to your life and challenge students to invent something new from technologies originally developed for space exploration. Hosted by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, OPSPARC 2020 begins on Oct. 1, 2019. 

Science News for Students

Check out these two science websites for students: Science News for Students and Student Science.

Science News for Students is an award-winning online publication that provides age-appropriate science news for students, parents and educators. Stories highlight ongoing research in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology.

Student Science features the STEM activities of students across the country, including student inventions, competitions, etc.

Both publications are produced by the Society for Science & the Public, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education. 

Learn more.


Science Buddies

An award-winning non-profit, Science Buddies empowers K–12 students, parents, and teachers to quickly and easily find free project ideas and help in all areas of science from physics to food science and music to microbiology. Whether your goal is to find a fun science activity for your kids or win the international science fair, Science Buddies puts comprehensive, scientist-authored tools, tips, and techniques at your fingertips.

Taking inspiration from the news, from the frontlines of university research, and from kids themselves, Science Buddies staff scientists publish new content weekly. They often collaborate with experts at high tech companies, government labs and agencies (like NOAA and NASA) and top universities. Visit website.

Scholarships Out There for STEAM Majors

Justin ShaiferJustin Shaifer’s scientific awakening began after his mom forced him to sign a contract promising that he’d figure out how to pay for college. While searching for scholarships, Shaifer discovered deep pools of money around STEM education, “Here’s the thing about going into a STEM major in college. There is so much money out there for anyone that’s trying to get into STEM, as a student, and even after you become a student,” he added. Read the article.

Library Homework Resources

Did you know that your local library offers homework resources for students of all ages? Fairfax County Public Library has online resources for homework, SAT and ACT preparation, specialty databases, free wi-fi and computer access and more. Best of all, they have staff who can help you find the best resources for your assignment. More information. 

STEAM homework help can be found here

25 College Majors with Lowest Unemployment

A list of the top 25 college majors with the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, reveals that science-based college majors dominate in the employment category. Compiled by financial news and commentary website 24/7 Wall St. View the list here.

Virginia #1 for Business - STEAM Leading the Way

The war between the states for business and jobs has never been more intense, with states paying staggering amounts of taxpayer dollars to woo companies. The prizes are big — including Amazon’s promised $5 billion HQ2 project. The annual CNBC America’s Top States for Business study ranked Virginia as #1. The state has the nation’s best workforce, including the fourth-highest concentration of science, technology, education and math (STEM) workers. Strong school test scores, small class sizes and a wealth of colleges and universities make Virginia’s education system the best in the nation. And with Virginia Tech University announcing plans to build a new campus in northern Virginia focused on innovation, things could get even better. Read the entire article.

Miss Virginia is a Scientist!

Camille Schrier, who was crowned Miss Virginia 2019 on June 22, is a self-described “woman of science.” The Pennsylvania native and VCU doctoral of pharmacy student impressed the judges by choosing to conduct an experiment onstage for the talent portion of the competition.

"[Science] was something that I always loved, truly," Schrier said. "I love biology and I love chemistry, so I ended up deciding to be biochemistry major at Virginia Tech. I also have a degree in systems biology, which is a computational biology and mathematical modeling degree. So for me, I was really excited to be able to pursue that at a higher level. There's not a point in time that I say, 'Oh, this is when I really decided that I loved science.' It was always something I loved, and so it wasn't really a question. It was just a matter of what I would do with it." Read more.

Home Depot and Discovery Education Partner to Create Science Fair Central

New Science Fair Central Website Supports Students Preparing for Science Fair Season and Provides Exciting Learning Activities to Ignite Student Curiosity Through Unique “Maker Corner Activities” 

Silver Spring, Md.  – The Home Depot and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, today announced a joint effort to support student engagement in science and STEAM education. Together, the companies have relaunched Science Fair Central, a website designed to provide the 12 million K-12 students participating in science fairs and STEAM events nationwide materials that will ignite their curiosity and support the development of creative and innovative projects.

Science Fair Central supports students participating in Science Fairs and STEAM events by providing useful resources such as project starters, information on scientific processes and engineering presentations, as well as material checklists and information on managing projects. The website also contains resources that help prepare parents and science fair coordinators to assist students in their efforts. Parent-focused content includes useful advice on how best to help students, what a completed project should look like, and printable material lists.  Read more.

STEAM and the Art of Guitar Building

Did you know that building a guitar takes knowledge of math, physics and geometry? Learn more.

How to build a guitar.

Fairfax Futures Offers Parent Resources

Parents and families are a child’s first teachers. When guiding and supporting a young child’s development, laying a strong foundation in the first five years of life is essential to your child’s continued healthy growth and development. In addition to supporting early childhood educators with training opportunities, mentoring and resources, Fairfax Futures publishes online, downloadable booklets and videos to help families nurture a love of learning in their young children. Titles include Helping Your Child Love to Learn, Tapping into Technology and Math in Early Learning: Exploring Balance with The Cat in the Hat. Learn more.

All Girls Robotics Team Headed to World Competition

An all-girls robotics team from Burke is headed to a worldwide competition. The team of four girls called Fusion Four will compete in the First Lego League Worlds Competition on April 24-27 in Detroit. The team is made up of Ema Hrabak, Minah Sisco and Reira Erickson of Lake Braddock Secondary School and Devon Rudolph of Robinson Secondary School. The Fusion Four got to the world competition after winning the state championship for Division I in Virginia and DC.

The First Lego League challenges teams to solve a real-world problem by building, testing, and programming a robot with Lego technology. Tens of thousands of students from around the world will head to Detroit for the world competition. Read more.

TJHSST Nationally Ranked

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was ranked 4th in a prestigious nation-wide survey conducted by US News and World Report magazine. The report ranked the top 20 2019 Best High Schools for STEM that help prepare teens for careers in thriving, top-paying STEM fields. Schools were selected based AP science and math test results.

Quick statistics about TJHSST.

More about the USNWR survey

America's Lost Einsteins

A recent, ground breaking study that asks the question “Who Becomes an Inventor in America“, paints a troubling picture of how we are failing bright and talented students in poor and underserved communities. The New York Times summarizes the most significant finding of this work:

“Not surprisingly, children who excelled in math were far more likely to become inventors. But being a math standout wasn’t enough. Only the top students who also came from high-income families had a decent chance to become an inventor.

This fact may be the starkest: Low-income students who are among the very best math students — those who score in the top 5 percent of all third graders — are no more likely to become inventors than below-average math students from affluent families.”

Read more.

Workforce Education at Original Mount Vernon High School

The Original Mount Vernon High School is a step closer to once again becoming a learning hub for residents of the Richmond Highway corridor. In mid-March, Fairfax County Public Schools and Northern Virginia Community College signed a letter of intent to offer educational and career certification programs at the historic site.

The objectives are to “expand workforce training and certification programs that lead to employment with a focus on information technology, cyber technology, health and hospitality, and culinary arts; expand training and workforce development for early childhood educators; develop a plan to establish a dual enrollment program to offer college credits to high school students, as well as possibly develop an early college high school ... Read more.

Innovation Lab at Chantilly High School

A new Innovation Lab at Chantilly High School is enabling students to collaborate with and learn from each other as they delve into stations that include take-apart technology, audiovisual studio, VEX robotics, Arduino, 3-D print and scan, and game design.

Principal Scott Poole said the lab came about thanks to parents Sekhar and Malini Puli, who  founded Asha-Jyothi, an organization that serves the underprivileged by providing access to education and healthcare. The Pulis observed the growing popularity of makerspaces in schools and wanted to provide all Chantilly students with the opportunity to explore their own ideas, and Asha-Jyothi raised $106,000 through a private campaign. Read more.

Fairfax County Girls Robotics Team to Compete in World Finals

Fairfax Robotics team members, Neha Bhat and Nithya Chintalapati, placed 1st at the World Robot Olympiad Nationals on September 15. They were pronounced the National Champions in the regular senior category and invited to represent Team USA at the WRO World Finals in November in Thailand. Their team, called Absolute Zero, is the first team from VA/MD/DC metro area to reach the world finals, and Bhat and Chintalapati are the only all-girls team from the USA. Both are students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Read more

Children's Science Center Expands

The Children’s Science Center will be merging with the Science Museum of Virginia to create a new regional science center. This expanded regional center will be an extension of and will benefit from shared resources and expertise from the Museum’s four decades of delivering inspiring informal science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning experiences.

Nene Spivy, Executive Director for the Children’s Science Center, said “We look forward to expanding our mission of inspiring a love of learning in STEM; showcasing our region as a science and technology hub; and providing fun, high-quality interactive experiences for families, schools and curious minds of all ages.”

This new STEM-focused resource will serve an estimated 300,000 guests annually and will be located at the Kincora development in Dulles and will be ten times the size of the current Children’s Science Center facility at Fair Oaks Mall.

Full press release.

Sparking a Love of STEAM

Oakton High School 12th grader Leela Ayyar’s excitement about science, technology, engineering, and math is contagious, just as it is with her literary alter ego, Elara. One day, Leela hopes to get her pilot’s license and pursue her dream of becoming an astronaut.
It can be tough to be an aspiring engineer in a predominantly masculine field of study, but her passion has always pushed her forward. Along the way, Leela noticed that other girls didn't feel the same way. Read more.

Children's Science Center Gets Kids Excited About STEM

Interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments and demos make Children's Science Lab the fun place for learning about science, technology, engineering and math. Exhibit rooms have different displays to showcase the science kids read about in text books and make it come to life. The Channel 4 video (above) shows the excitement and enthusiasm as kids dive in to science.

The center also takes experiments on the road. “Taking our program out to schools is really critical to making sure we expose all children in our region to the wonders of science,” says Executive Director Nene Spivy.

Chantilly Academy Receives Grant from Northrop Grumman

Chantilly Academy, a Governor's STEM Academy, was recently awarded $10,000 from Northrop Grumman, a business partner of the Academy for over 30 years. The grant was presented to the Academy as one of the ongoing partnership components to increase STEM activities for the students. It will also provide support for CyberPatriot; the National Youth Cyber Education Program that includes the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition and annual summer camp hosted by Chantilly Academy.  Additionally, FIRST Robotics Chantilly Team 612 will receive a monetary sponsorship to support their competitions.  Contact news liaison Bonnie Wannett at 

NVCC Expands Information and Engineering Technology Programs

In collaboration with technology leaders throughout the region, Northern Virginia Community College has developed three new strategic programs to address key areas of significant need within the Northern Virginia technology workforce. These programs are aligned to the needs of industry, will allow students to earn industry-recognized credentials, and are targeted at high growth areas that show significant job demand within the region. Programs include Cloud Computing, Data Center Operations and an A.A.S. in Engineering Technology. Contact Paula Ford for program details.

PatriotHacks Video

A hackathon is a social coding event where people of multiple disciplines work collaboratively to solve a challenge. The concept of hackathon, also known as hack fest or codefest or hack day, was born out of the open source community.

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