Shenandoah University’s campus was abuzz with activity the week of July 24, through July 30, as more than 50 high-ability, high-potential middle school girls selected from across the Commonwealth attended the Virginia Science Technology Engineering and Applied Mathematics (STEAM) Academy’s signature summer program, Summer STEAM and first girls-only session.
Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business Dean Miles Davis, Ph.D., played a key role in bringing Summer STEAM to the university’s campus. Dr. Davis welcomed the more than 100 students and parents at the opening ceremony and during the week, led an evening seminar with the young scholars on micro financing and entrepreneurship.
Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Technology Michael Magro, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Management Seth Chatfield, Ph.D., team taught “Health Care and Computer Database Analysis,” while Adjunct Associate Professor of Management Alesia Slocum, D.B.A., served as a panelist on the Virginia STEAM Academy’s Women in STEAM Leadership Panel.
Dr. Slocum and fellow panelists from Virginia STEAM Academy, Hollins University, NASA Langley and Sera Brynn (a cyber risk management firm) addressed the Summer STEAM young scholars and 50 girls from the broader community, who joined in an afternoon community day of design-build activity and discussion.
Virginia STEAM Academy, a 501c3 charitable organization, has expanded its summer program from serving 56 rising 6th through 8th grade students at Old Dominion University in 2013 to serving 186 students at three university sites in 2016: Shenandoah University, Old Dominion University and Washington & Lee University (in collaboration with Virginia Military Institute).
In addition, this year’s program included three 9th-grade Summer STEAM ambassadors and citizen leaders, two 11th-grade ambassadors and student teaching assistants (a position typically reserved for practicing teachers or teachers in training), and one 11th-grade ambassador and session co-designer.
Student and family demand have driven program expansion. Since 2013, more than 1,500 students have applied to Summer STEAM. Nearly 500 have been accepted and have successfully completed the program.
Summer STEAM ambassadors from across Virginia participate in week-long, intensive, immersive, residential programming. Daily five-hour courses, evening leadership seminars, and recreation and wellness activities are all structured to inspire and expose students to STEAM content, applied learning and leadership development. In addition, each weekly Summer STEAM session offers unique elements such as clubs, community service outreach, structured hackathon, math modeling seminar, micro financing and entrepreneurship symposium, and a Women in STEAM Leadership Panel discussion.
For many students, Summer STEAM is their only opportunity to experience the rigor and relationships that evolve out of an intensive, immersive, living-learning laboratory with like-minded, like-motivated peers, exceptional faculty and staff. Grant funding from the Virginia General Assembly, businesses, foundations, and private donors allows Virginia STEAM Academy to offer Summer STEAM at no cost to parents.
Since its inception in 2013, Virginia STEAM Academy has partnered with outstanding middle, high school, and university instructors, as well as exceptional industry and business leaders to deliver Summer STEAM. This year’s courses were water conservation; health careers; water and art; rockets, ships and material science; light and lasers; math in sports; data science and statistics + python programming and robotics; health care and computer database analysis; games, puzzles, and logic; and engineering, innovation and invention.
Over the years, Virginia STEAM Academy has offered additional courses in math reasoning, encryption, math modeling, mathematical patterns in nature, physics, computer engineering, agricultural life sciences, cyber security, nanoscience, and forensic, anthropology, and bioarchaelogy.
In 2016, the Virginia Mathematics and Science Consortium recognized Virginia STEAM with a “Programs that Work” award.