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CENI Newsletter — June 2021

June 2021 Newsletter

June 2021 Newsletter

Greetings and Happy Summer! 

This month we are featuring new STEM educational resources created by our very own Kim Keith, Virginia Tech students' service learning projects, a new makerspace, and some pictures from the reopening of the Science Museum of Western. 

I loved experiencing the new, interactive exhibits at the museum, which are great examples of successful partnerships between Virginia Tech researchers and museum educators, facilitated by our CENI Educator Liaison Network! 

Also, please let us know if you are a researcher who would like to team with us on Broader Impacts and Education Plans on proposals.

Lisa McNair 
Director, CENI
Professor, Engineering Education

Advance broader impacts with CENI

On July 26, the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) proposals are due. CENI frequently partners with Virginia Tech researchers on broader impacts design, preK-12 school and museum liaison services, and assessment and evaluation for CAREER grants and other grant proposals. Visit our Broader Impacts Partnerships webpage and complete the partnership form or email us at for more information or to request a consultation.

New openly-licensed STEM educational resources

CENI is joining a growing number of educators and education partners working collaboratively to  provide equitable access to great learning materials throughout the state, and support new approaches to learning and teaching for all Virginians. The #GoOpen initiative is a project of the U.S. Department of Education that recognizes states, local school districts and organizations working together to share knowledge and experiences to help educators transition to using openly licensed educational resources. While working toward the goal of developing high-quality computer science lessons and resources for an Advancing Computer Science in Education grant, Kim Keith, VT-K12 Liaison for Floyd County Public Schools, has also ensured CENIs presence on the #GoOpenVA platform.  An overview of her most recent contributions are below. Other contributions or resources vetted by CENI staff can be found by searching VT CENI on the #GoOpenVA site.

Words matter, and the words we say to ourselves matter most of all. Through a series of reflective questions, students find their "one word" of focus to encourage and inspire in the coming months. One Word Lesson 1: My Mantra is appropriate for the beginning of the school year, the start of a new calendar year, or anytime in between. This lesson plan includes ideas for incorporating personal goal setting with writing, digital learning integration, and a follow-up lesson integrating computer science. One Word Lesson 2: Binary Code Your Word allows students to write their "one word" in a different language (binary code) and create classroom decor that can serve as a reminder that the classroom community is linked together in supporting each individual toward achieving their goals.

Springing off of the picture book The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, students contemplate diverse cultures  and  customs before learning about how a computer program translates English to binary code. The Name Jar- Binary Code Your Initials: Introduction to Binary Code combines English Language Arts with computer science and includes interactive read aloud questions, a discussion about culturally diverse backgrounds, and an introduction of binary language (with a translation chart). Instructions to create binary bracelets are also included. 

Check out service learning student projects

Students in Chelsea Lyles' UH 3204: Honors Service Learning class created projects to address needs identified by community partners (profiled in May's newsletter). Here we highlight some of the products that interdisciplinary student groups created. This summer, CENI is working with several groups to refine their lesson plans and activities for addition to #GoOpenVA, which we will share when they are available.

If you have an educational outreach activity you'd like to propose for the course, contact Chelsea ( 

CENI and CENI Partners in the News

  • Pride and hope for rural schoolchildren: Virginia Tech researcher on a mission to flip narratives - read 
  • Read more about two Jones/CENI Grant projects that highlight the benefits of the CENI/ICAT's Liaison Network. Check out the connections made by Dr. Jamie Little, the Virginia Tech-Radford City Public Schools Liaison:
    • Culturally-relevant media literacy programming with Radford High School’s Bobcat Studio Club - read
    • Culturally-relevant media literacy programming with Lucy Addison Middle School - read
  • VT PEERS is rerouting engineering pathways to reach kids in rural Appalachia - watch
  • Teens from across the commonwealth learn about the journey to medical careers - read
  • Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approves 2021 promotions, tenure, continued appointments - read

CENI Educator Liaison Corner

Floyd County Public Schools

Floyd County High School is hiring a Technology Education Teacher - Apply now!

FCPS is working with the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center to pilot a virtual STEM experience with Check Elementary and Floyd County Elementary.

Montgomery County Public Schools

The Falling Branch Elementary School makerspace is ready for action! The makerspace was developed in collaboration with Kim Lester, Director of Pre-College Programs in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) in the College of Engineering. The makerspace contains a green screen for video, as well as STEM activity tables and labeled materials such as egg cartons, clay pots, cardboard, and fabric.

Radford City Public Schools

Liaison Dr. Jamie Little from Radford City Public Schools is working with Dr. Karen Eley Sanders from the Virginia Tech College Access Collaborative to pilot a new post-high school college and career readiness program titled, “Oh the Places You’ll Go. . . Passport to Career and College”. 

Science Museum of Western Virginia

The Science Museum of Western Virginia reopened June 1, 2021! The museum is featuring five new exhibits on the floor that were facilitated by CENI’s liaison relationship there. Come visit exhibits on gliding snakes, microorganisms, helmet testing, healthy honey bee hives, and world crops. A sixth exhibit on the power of bubbles is coming soon!

Literacy Volunteers of the NRV is hiring

We're looking for a part-time co-director to work in partnership with the current director and the rest of our literacy team to provide organizational leadership. Please see the job posting here.  There will be two 24 hour/week positions -- Director of Development/Community Relations and Director of Programs -- and the current director is open to filling either one, depending on interest and skill set of candidate.  Please share with anyone who may be interested. For more info about the life-changing work of LVNRV, please visit

ICAT Creativity + Innovation Day 2021 

Videos from ICAT's annual celebration of creativity and innovation at the convergence of science, engineering, arts and design are available online.

CENI is now on Instagram! Follow us @ceni_vt. // This looks like a button

Upcoming Events and Deadlines


Please submit items to Chelsea ( for the July newsletter. // This looks like a button