What, like it’s rocket science? Virginia Tech educators and students want to bring your kids along for STEAM learning

Education

Blacksburg, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Tech Advanced Engineering Design Lab and Ware Lab have been very involved with Roanoke’s STEAM day for the past ten years and have had students and associates travel to Roanoke to share their love for all things science, tech, engineering, art, and math. 

This year the in-person events will not be taking place, however STEAM day is going virtual and Virginia Tech wants to continue to be a resource to young learners.

“I encourage kids to build something that can take them into space someday and it’s not a rocket, it’s their mind.”

Bob Schoner, Assistant Manager at the Advanced Engineering Design Lab at Virginia Tech

There’s no better encouragement to use your mind than being able to have Virginia Tech students and educators serve as mentors in state of the art facilities.

They will look at videos, they will also interact with students from the Ware Lab and the A.E.D.L, working in their bays so they can ask engineering students in real time questions about their projects.”

Dewey Spangler, Manager of the Virginia Tech Advanced Engineering Design Lab and Ware Lab

The projects aren’t your typical science projects. Virginia Tech students will take your children along with them, virtually, while they work on competitions involving spacecraft systems.

They’re building stuff that NASA and other people are interested in and that’s why they have these competitions… like the Mars ice challenge, eventually we’re going to send humans to Mars. There appears to be water on Mars. If we can harvest that water, we can process it, we can get drinking water, and we can also break them apart and get hydrogen and oxygen. That’s rocket fuel.

Kevin Shinpaugh, Virginia Tech Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Manager of the Virginia Tech Advanced Engineering Design Lab and Ware Lab, Dewey Spangler is excited about inspiring kids of various ages about STEAM learning. Spangler says the 2020 STEAM initiative allows students in Kindergarten through twelfth in underrepresented areas to understand how the math that they are learning in school applies to incredible things such as exploration of space, the development and use of green technology, green energy resources, and so much more.

The advantage of STEAM learning going virtual is that students can go back and look at the videos again if they miss details and there’s also potential to reach a larger audience than in years prior.

Virginia Tech Senior, studying Aerospace Engineering and Vice President of the Human Powered Submarine Team, Gillian Hersh can pretty much call the Ware Lab her second home. She wants students interested in STEAM to realize that they can be whatever they want to be and that no dream is too far out of reach.

It’s very very common that when a little kid comes up to you and says, “Oh I want to be an astronaut or I want to be the president,” it’s very very common to encourage those things. A lot of times as people get older we kind of tell people to be more practical. In my mind, I don’t think we should do that. If someone tells you they want to be an astronaut they should be able to be an astronaut.”

Gillian Hersh, Virginia Tech Aerospace Engineering Senior

If your child wants to learn what it’s like to build a rocket, a submarine, and approach knowledge that will enable them to make a difference in this world, Virginia Tech wants to lend a hand in furthering that opportunity.

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