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Virginia Tech launches pilot program to support STEM for Alexandria 5th graders

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Category: impact Video duration: Virginia Tech launches pilot program to support STEM for Alexandria 5th graders

Virginia Tech partners with Alexandria City Public Schools to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math opportunities for students and create potential pathways to higher education.

These are micro:bits, pocket-size computers now in the hands of every fifth grader at Polk Elementary in Alexandria. This kind of programming really allows students to get focused, to get exposure, to get excited, but also to be prepared because eventually that's what's required if they're to enter the STEM fields when they get into high school and eventually get to college. The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, through its partnership with Alexandria City Public Schools, provided the micro bits as part of a pilot program to engage students in technology fields early on. We've been using robots for several years now with the kids, and it's a lot of fun. It brings just a lot of excitement to the lesson. And so to learn about some other way to code and other way to integrate it, it's just, it makes learning and teaching a lot of fun. Jim Egenrieder spent the last six months helping Polk teachers integrate the devices into their curriculum. This device has a number of sensors, temperature, humidity, motion detection, light detection, sound detection. All these great things that give students this tangible way to study the world around them and connect it with new skills in programming. Teachers say giving these students the chance to build software, to see themselves working in STEM fields will have a tremendous impact on laying the foundation for their futures. It's like I don't just have to be a YouTuber. I can actually be the person that is the creator of this. And I think that's going to be a game changer for a lot of our students. Our students are now going to be able to have opportunities that they may not have had if we didn't have this partnership with Virginia Tech. So the exposure will peak interests, which we hope in turn will expand our STEM opportunities for students in high school. ACPS and Virginia Tech expect to expand the program to other schools in the near future.