Friday, April 22, 2022

Summer 2022 Camps - free

Shareable link to our Summer 2022 camp registration:

(Full descriptions are provided in following pages.)   
All camps are free, and equipment is provided.

All camps are also:

  •   9am to noon in-person 
  •   hands-on, skills-based experiential learning  
  •   allow for some extended participation in afternoons
  •   located at our Virginia Tech campus next to West Falls Church Metro (Orange Line)

1. AAUW Wearable Tech (June 27-June 30)   -  suggested ages 12-18  (exceptions considered) 

     Co-sponsored by the Arlington Chapter of the AAUW, this camp was originally designed for girls,
and now welcomes all participants ages 12-18 (MS or HS).  Participants will build simple LED and servo motor circuits that are controlled by programming an Arduino microcontroller.  These skills will be applied to a creative wearable device that uses the same Arduino microcontroller and allows you to program and operate the device. Many other fabrication tools and skills will be introduced, including safety precautions.

2. Urban Agricultural and Environmental Technologies with IoT (August 1-4)  - suggested ages - 14-18 (exceptions considered) 

      Participants will identify real-world, urban agriculture and environmental challenges or problems, research and model potential solutions, and then test and redesign prototypes.  A variety of materials will be complemented with electronics monitoring, sensors and actuators addressing agricultural and environmental needs. Support for county fair or science and engineering fair brainstorming is available. 

Proceed to to register.  

Questions? Email or call 571-4828298 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Passing of George Willcox

 I'm passing on the very nice tributes written by Brenda Long and Darla Miller of Virginia ACTE. - Jim

Loss of a friend and colleague.

It is with a sad and heavy heart to inform you of the passing of George Willcox, retired State CTE Director, on Wednesday. George was a stalwart for CTE in Virginia and nationally.  He devoted 47 years to CTE with 41 of those with VDOE, Office of CTE.  George supported Virginia ACTE and the CTE division associations, quality CTE programs for students as well as expanded opportunities for students, and continued to strengthen the relationship with Virginia ACTE and VDOE.  He officially retired on February 1, 2022, and yesterday we lost a great advocate for CTE.  Rest In peace, Our Friend.  You ran a good race.

George provided leadership and support for Technology and Engineering Education for 47 years before his retirement on December 31, 2021. He joined the Department of Education as the advisor for the Technology Student Association in 1978 and served as a supervisor of the program of Technology and Engineering Education until his promotion in 2006. 

Most recently, he served as State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. It is difficult to describe the range of impact he had on Technology and Engineering education, adding engineering courses in the mid 1990’s. He was active in TSA and the International Technology and Engineering Educator’s Association, serving as president in 2006. He was also active in the Virginia Association of Career and Technical Education. His was a giant in the field and will be sorely missed. He is survived by his daughter Angela Minor. Service information is not yet available. 

 A video:

Thursday, March 31, 2022

$1 Filter Removes Lead in Tapwater

High schoolers create $1 filter to remove lead in water.

When the filter needs to be replaced, the water coming out of it changes color.

By Kristin Houser at

Maryland high school students have developed an ultra low-cost device to filter out lead in water. Aside from being cheaper than conventional systems, the filter also has a built-in warning system that lets users know when it needs to be replaced.

Why it matters: The EPA estimates that 6 to 10 million homes still get their water from lead pipes. If the chemistry of the water in those pipes changes, the pipes can corrode and leak lead into drinking water.

Lead is toxic, and consuming it can cause heart, kidney, and reproductive problems in adults. Children, meanwhile, can suffer lower IQs, behavioral problems, slowed growth, and more if even low levels of lead make it into their bloodstreams.

The challenge: While the U.S. has made enormous progress in reducing lead exposure in the last few decades, and steps are being taken to replace the remaining lead pipes, the transition won’t happen overnight. Finding pipes contaminated with lead and replacing them is a costly and often slow process.

In the meantime, people can use filtration systems to remove lead in water, but those filters can be bulky and expensive, and it can be hard to tell if they’re actually working or in need of replacement.

“A few years ago, I saw a video of a woman in Michigan turn on her tap water, and it came out brown,” said Rebecca Bushway, the Maryland students’ teacher at Barrie Middle and Upper School and the project’s principal investigator. 

“That made me think — because there’s really no safe level of lead in drinking water, wouldn’t it be nice to have a water filter that could tell you that your water is contaminated, well before it turns brown because of lead?” she continued.

The idea: In 2020, Bushway discussed the problem of lead in water with her chemistry students, who were learning from home at the time due to COVID-19, and they quickly started brainstorming ideas for a low-cost water filter.

“Calcium phosphate first binds with dissolved lead in water to form lead phosphate and free calcium,” said Bushway. “The calcium, which is harmless, ends up in the water, and the lead phosphate stays in the filter.”

When the calcium phosphate can no longer remove lead from the water, the potassium iodide powder at the very bottom of the device reacts to the lead. This causes the water leaving the filter to take on a yellow hue — this is the sign to users that it’s time to replace the device.

Fixed with science: It took more than a dozen failed prototypes to get everything just right, but the students now have a working water filter that Bushway presented at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society. 

During the presentation, she noted that the team is hoping to find partners to help it make and distribute the device, which she expects could be sold for as little as $1. 

“Ultimately, this experience has shown students that they can make a difference to somebody, and there are problems that they can fix with science,” Bushway said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Fairfax County Recess for Middle School

FCPS set to require recess in all middle schools for the first time 

from Angela Woolsey at FFXnow

The Fairfax County School Board intends to approve policy revisions next month that would make recess a requirement at all elementary and middle schools.

Under the proposed changes to Fairfax County Public Schools’ student and staff health and wellness policy, all middle school students would be guaranteed at least 15-minute, supervised recess breaks during the day. Elementary school students will get two recess breaks per day, totaling at least 30 minutes.

“Mental health professionals have expressed the benefits of a daily break for all, and most importantly for students who enter our buildings at 7:30 in the morning and don’t see a ray of sunshine until dismissal,” Ricardy Anderson, the school board’s Mason District representative, said at Thursday’s board meeting (March 24).

According to FCPS, the recess requirement for elementary school students is not new. It’s just being integrated into the health and wellness policy at the school board’s request.

FCPS has “employed a variety of structures” to give middle school students a break during the school day, but this will be the first time that recess is mandated at that level, a spokesperson says.

Middle schools across the system started incorporating recess into their schedules during the current

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Virtual Professional Learning

from Virginia ACTE:

Professional Learning Opportunity for Canvas/Virtual Virginia. All resources are free and created for Virginia teachers. Great Opportunities for CTE teachers.

The Virtual Virginia's Professional Learning Program: Self-paced courses (including one on getting started with Canvas and one on using Canvas with Google).

The Canvas Countdown (CTE-facilitated cohort): Self-paced and focused on CTE-related needs.

The Virginia Virginia Professional Learning Network: Sign up for LMS support, best practices, and a shared space for participants to learn from one another.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

SREB facilitating CTE / STEM teacher training programs

 from SREB:

Great teachers are the key to preparing students for success. SREB’s Teaching to Lead teacher preparation program offers intensive professional development and coaching supports that build the capacity of teachers from business and industry to plan instruction, engage diverse students, manage classrooms, create standards-driven assessments, gain confidence and remain in the profession. 

SREB’s Teaching to Lead teacher preparation program helps new career and technical education teachers become great teachers.

Developed by SREB and the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, T2L supports CTE teachers who are entering the classroom after successful careers. T2L has been shown to improve teacher competence and self-efficacy in a study of the model (PDF) conducted by the NRCCTE at SREB.

T2L can be used by states, districts or schools to support new or