Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Fairfax County logo

STEAM Opportunities for Fairfax County Youth

Community Center in Lee District

On Saturday, May 7, community members gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of the new Community Center in the Lee District.

A former athletic club was transformed into a classroom, technology lab, maker space, athletics and fitness center, hangout and workforce development center.

At the event, dozens of children, youth, and parents were able to sample opportunities the center will offer including sports, experimenting with 3-D pens, drones, art, and other activities.

Click here for a full list of activities currently offered at the center, address and hours of operation.

Local Shark Tank Student Winners

Akanksha Tibrewala and Kaavya Karthikeyan, Chantilly High School students, are the winners of the 6th Annual Shark Tank Technology Challenge for students from Fairfax County high schools. Their invention, AutoTrem, is a walker for Parkinson's patients to use in a clinical therapy environment. The walker can move automatically but allows patients to gradually reduce the dependence on the automation as they build strength and proper gait.

Second place went to Andrew Choi, Grace Xiao, Samarth Bhargav, Chris Jia, Hasvika Challa and Jaydon Sun, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, for their invention, APP-Pill, which is an app specialized for the visually impaired that allows older adults and people with disabilities to access and identify their medication.

Third place went to Sol Song and Ryan Kim, also from TJHSST, for their invention, SignInterpreter, an app that identifies American Sign Language gestures and converts them to text form.

Learn more about this competition and how you can enter next year!

(Picture: Shark Tank winners Akanksha Tibrewala and Kaavya Karthikeyan with Supervisor Pat Herrity and FCPS School Board member Laura Jane Cohen.

Importance of Early STEAM Learning for Young Children

Young children are natural and active learners who explore their surroundings with curiosity, eager to make discoveries and learn about their world. They are budding scientists who question, investigate, and develop possibilities about what they see and hear. Their exploration and active engagement build knowledge, create meaningful experiences, and help them develop the skills for lifelong learning and problem-solving. As they continue to question, hypothesize and test, children build their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Learn more about the importance of early exposure to STEAM knowledge in developing lifelong affinity among young children.

Fairfax County Public Library maintains a comprehensive list of Early Literacy resources.

Prince William Landfill a Thriving STEM Site

Prince William County is transforming its landfill into a community resource by producing energy, recovering valuable materials and providing unique opportunities for education. View the videos below, created in partnership with George Mason University ecology students, to learn about the diverse nature of STEM-related  disciplines required to maintain a "mountain of garbage" that can be managed and molded into beautiful and ecologically-sound landscapes. 

An Eco-Park, built from recycled materials, and featuring a bee and butterfly pollinator garden, wetlands and wildlife habitat, has been constructed on the site. Plans also include an interpretive STEM education center, hiking trails, academic research and more. The Eco-Park will be open to the public starting in Summer 2022.

                         

National Children's Museum Open!

The National Children’s Museum is a unique hybrid institution, combining learning elements found in a science center with children’s museum experiences. Through science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) focused exhibits and playful, in-person and virtual program offerings, the Museum sparks curiosity and ignites creativity for all learners. In a new home since February 2020, National Children’s Museum moved to 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, welcoming visitors into a first-of-its-kind children’s museum and science center designed for modern families. Open Thursday through Sunday, also has a monthly podcast, a newsletter and other ways to stay in touch. Book your field trip or birthday party; admission by ticket only; book in advance.

Turner Park Observatory

Fairfax County’s Turner Farm Park Roll-Top Observatory has been lauded as one of the best locations for astronomy in the region. Once a dairy farm, this 52-acre park is now home to a roll-top observatory, one of the few in the area regularly open to the public. The Analemma Society hosts weekly viewing parties utilizing a variety of telescopes. Depending on the conditions, there’s the opportunity to see brilliantly colored stars, star clusters, diaphanous nebulae and other galaxies. Analemma also offers educational programs … read more.

Nova Labs Makerspace has moved!

Northern Virginia's most active MakerSpace forum has moved from Reston to Fairfax City, at 3850 Jermantown Road, Fairfax VA.  Phase 1 construction is on-going, but all equipment, materials and furniture have been moved out of their former Reston location. Although the move is complete there is still plenty to do:

  • Unpacking boxes and building out the space.

  • Member badges are now active. 

  • A temporary dry kitchen (no water available), equipped with fridge, microwave, coffee pot, etc.

Individual shops will come online over the next few weeks. Some are in temporary spaces until Phase 2 construction is complete - tentatively slated for May. Volunteers are needed for this work.

Read more.

STEM Lyceums - Explore your potential in STEM

STEM Lyceums is a virtual club with the purpose of building high school STEM communities, and engaging students in discussions and explorations of STEM concepts and STEM career pathways. Beginning in February 2022, monthly webinars will be offered on a variety of STEM topics. These webinars are listed in the STEAM Calendar.

STEM Lyceums is offered by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE). The Center’s mission is to nurture high school and university scholars to careers of excellence and leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and to encourage collaboration between and among scientific and technological leaders in the global community.

CEE also offers teacher enrichment programs that include webinars with STEM experts and leaders from academia and industry.

NOVA Workforce and G3 Programs Help You Fast Track Your Career

Are you more interested in launching your career rather than taking on more academics? Is a four-year degree beyond your reach right now? Northern Virginia Community College has programs to get you on the path of your choice.

NOVA Workforce offers continuing education and professional development training for today’s workforce. Learn new, in-demand skills, or prepare for industry credentials, and advance your career. Programs and courses are offered throughout the year in a wide range of STEAM and STEAM-related topics, including extensive computer, technology and coding courses; accounting; healthcare specialties and more. Limited financial aid is available for some programs. Contact NOVA Workforce for more information.

The G3 program makes it possible for Fairfax County residents with low or modest incomes to pursue jobs in high-demand fields. The G3 scholarship makes community college possible (for those who are eligible) on a timeline that works for you. G3 students can select from a list of approved programs in five career areas: healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety.

Both programs allow students to earn college credit based on testing for introductory level college course material, as well as to earn credit for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom. 

NOVA Makers @ NOVA Fab Lab

NOVA Makers is a program at the NOVA 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. Currently the technologies available for projects are additive manufacturing (3D printing), laser cutting/engraving, and hand tools. Sessions are available for college students, faculty & staff, and high school students. A NOVA Fab Lab membership, a safety and orientation training, and machine specific certifications are provided and required as part of this program.

The NOVA Fab Lab is located at NOVA Community College’s Manassas campus. The Fab Lab Makerspace provides workshops, demonstrations, project collaborations with NOVA classes, tours, field trips, and special events to help enhance STEM learning and develop STEM skills. The lab provides a creative space to learn about a myriad of topics such as electronics and coding, how to operate fabrication equipment, use of design software, e-textiles/e-fashion, wood working, robotics, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and more. 

Learn more.

Are You on a VEX Robotics Team? NOVA FabLab Wants You!

The NOVA Fab Lab is now open on Friday nights for VIQC and VRC teams to scrimmage and work on their robots! A game field will be available along with space for teams to work on their robots all the way up to the VEX Robotics State Championship in March 2022. VEX IQ Challenge (VIQC) 1st/3rd Friday’s of the month 5pm - 10pm VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) 2nd/4th Friday’s of the month 5pm - 10pm A one-time registration fee of $10 per participant is required for this recurring event.**

Registration

(**Parental consent is required at time of registration)

National Zoo Webinars

The National Zoo has reopened, but if you want to learn more about your favorite animals, jump into the Zoo's Education page. Learn about at-home activities, videos and webinars. You can also play the Zoo Guardians interactive game.

The Animals page helps you meet the furry, feathered and scaly residents of the Zoo!

To learn about all the conservation activities sponsored by the Zoo, go to the Conservation page. Learn about species survival, migratory birds, aquatic creatures and more!

Forest Preschool

Play. Get Dirty. Learn!

Riverbend Park Forest Preschool will focus on encouraging outdoor learning and knowledge through nature. This play-based forest preschool for kids ages 3-5 will introduce young learners to the park and all it has to offer. Children will spend as much time as possible outside having fun, learning fundamentals and social skills through play in the half-day school.

For more information, visit Riverbend Park Forest Preschool or call 703-759-9018. Registration will begin in early August. 

Riverbend Park is located at 8700 Potomac Hills Street, Great Falls, 22066.

Technology @ FCPL

Technology at the Library is a collection of information, resources, tools and equipment, technology tutors and events offered by various library branches around Fairfax County. For example, "You're Gonna Make It!" is a listing of all the MakerSpace activities for kids offered by most of the county's library branches. Check out this site to discover fun STEAM activities that are free!

Planet Word

Your visit to Planet Word begins beneath a shimmering, mesmerizing Speaking Willow tree. You’ll hear murmurs in hundreds of languages as you pass under the branches of this unique sculpture. Planet Word is a unique hands-on immersive experience that will inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading in people of all ages. Through unique learning experiences and voice-activated exhibits, Planet Word provides a space to explore words and language that is grounded in a solid understanding of language arts and science. That means the unique exhibits explore how language is used, rather than dictate how it should be used. Linguists would call Planet Word a “descriptive” rather than a “prescriptive” museum. Planet Word engages participants in physical, social, and cognitive play to increase understanding of language. Planet Word s a nonprofit museum offering free admission, but reservations are required. Visit the website to learn more.

Community Arts Collection

Introduced by FCPL in late 2020, the Fairfax Community Arts Collection is a virtual public gallery of art where you can discover the creative talents of your neighbors and share your own. Click here to start exploring and contributing to the collection and its curated online exhibitions. 

As this Community Arts Collection grows, it will showcase work by Fairfax County residents in a variety of categories: illustration, sketch, painting, and graphic design; art and craft creations in various formats and materials; photography; original prose and poetry; and audio and video performance artView the contributions received so far

Black Student Fund

For nearly 60 years, the Black Student Fund (BSF) has provided essential advocacy, academic and retention support to academically motivated African American and other underserved students. The goal is to facilitate students' access, admission and graduation from member schools. BSF partners with member schools to provide financial assistance, as well as instruction, evaluations, feedback and monitoring necessary to facilitate the creation and maintenance of a supportive and responsive environment. This community-based nonprofit offers events throughout the year for participants.

Junior Scholars Offers Free Tutoring

Junior Scholars offers free tutoring by students at Virginia's famed Thomas Jefferson High School to 3rd through 6th grade students so that younger students don't fall behind in math and science due to COVID-19. Junior Scholars is a student-run nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that students everywhere have equal opportunities to succeed. They offer free online one-hour sessions by qualified high school tutors, personal 1-on-1 Google Meets and lessons and homework help during the school year.

NOVA SySTEMic Virtual PD for Teachers

NOVA SySTEMic is committed to providing ongoing STEM professional development opportunities for elementary, middle, and high school teachers in the Northern Virginia region during the COVID-19 pandemic. FREE professional development opportunities are provided in the areas of Fabrication, Programming, and Information Technology. Professional development focuses on skills training and application. Additional time is provided for discussion. All participants receive a certificate of attendance for the number of sessions attended in each series. Sessions are hosted via Zoom.

Topics include coding with Scratch, Easel, Intro to Python, Cloud Computing and more.

More information.

Water's Journey

Clean water is our most important resource. To preserve water quality for future generations, we need to understand where water comes from, how we use it, and where it goes when it leaves our homes and businesses. Video.

A beautiful, healthy water ecosystem in Fairfax County.

Gathering STEAM

The latest episode Gathering STEAM, an NCS-led course for Fairfax County Public Schools students in grades 7-12, focuses on an opportunity for students to get involved in the Clubhouse Network Global RE@CH Media Festival.

The festival encourages youth to create media that describe their personal experiences and gives voice to their ideas, feelings and concerns. Youth gain exposure through exhibition opportunities that showcase their perspectives.

The Clubhouse Network is an international community of more than 100 Clubhouses, 10 of which are located at NCS facilities in Fairfax County. Each Clubhouse provides a creative, safe and free out-of-school learning environment where young people work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas and develop new skills through technology. Read full article.

Neighborhood and Community Services After School Virtual Resources

NCS Connects: After School is a virtual platform providing programming for youth and teens during after-school hours, Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. Virtual programs began on Monday, Sept. 21 and include academics (i.e., STEAM), family engagement, service learning and youth leadership development. 

NCS Connects: After School

Best Nature Hikes

It's not coding or robotics, but getting outdoors safely will reduce pandemic-induced stress and reinvigorate your love of nature and the environment. This list includes federal, state and local parks with hiking trails, activities and unique features. For example, Scotts Run Nature Preserve in Fairfax County is home to a "grove of ancient hemlocks, whose ancestors migrated here during the last ice age, stands in the nature preserve as a reminder that this region once had a subarctic climate. The park's southern boundary is a major fault zone, a relict geologic feature from a distant past some 520 to 570 million years ago when the rocks were created out of slabs of ocean floor pushed up onto this continent." (Quote from website).

Dive into nature with this list of nearby parks: Back to Nature: The Best Hikes in Our Region

Many of these links feature information to stay pandemic-safe while exploring these beautiful places.

NCS Virtual Activities Including STEAM

NCS Connects logoThe Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) Community Centers and Teen Centers recently launched NCS Connects (#NCSconnects), Fairfax 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.

 

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

Fairfax County student who named Perseverance 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 Literacy, includes 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.

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.

Women Scientists Recognized in Dallas Art Installation

Picture of 2019 Dallas installation recognizing women in science.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 nonprofitIf/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

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.

https://www.facebook.com/fairfaxcountyenvironment/videos/222386262095120/

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.

Former Miss America is a Scientist!

Camille Schrier conducting an experience for the Miss America pageantMiss 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. She stole the show during the talent competition by putting on a chemistry demonstration.
"Science is all around us! I've loved science since I was a little girl," she said. "It's my mission to show kids that science is fun, relevant and easy to understand."
dressed in a white lab coat, 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.

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.

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

Fairfax Futures Offers Parent Resources

Fairfax Futures - Dad and kidsParents 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.

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.

Sparking a Love of STEAM

Children's illustrated science bookOakton 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.

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.

Fairfax County seal