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CENI Newsletter — May/June 2022

May/June 2022 Newsletter



Here at CENI we are looking forward to a rejuvenating summer, celebrating the good work done by the members of our Campus Engagement Network and our staff over the past academic year. CENI was recognized by the Alumni Association for outreach excellence, visited by the popular "Doodler" Steven White during a Hokie for a Day field trip, and sends best wishes to three outstanding new graduates.

Chelsea Haines Lyles
Associate Director of Broader Impacts

Phyllis Leary Newbill
Associate Director of Educational Networks

Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence - Team

This award recognizes outstanding contributions by Virginia Tech faculty members who have extended the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Recipients are nominated by their peers and are inducted into the university's Academy of Outreach Excellence. The awards program video is available here and CENI is introduced at 5:10. Congratulations to Lisa, Phyllis, and Chelsea for their well-deserved achievement!

Getting to Know the Campus Engagement Network  

This month’s featured member is Dr. Hannah H. Scherer, who is an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech. Dr. Scherer is highly accomplished, with a B.A. in Geology with Physics Core Concentration from Macalester College and her Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University. As an educator, Dr. Scherer strives to integrate teaching with her research. Her primary areas of interest are in STEM education with a focus on agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR). Through her research, Dr. Scherer seeks to understand effective methods and models for promoting, supporting, and facilitating authentic STEM teaching and learning in AFNR contexts. Her current work focuses on the Food-Energy-Water Nexus as a framework to support systems thinking in a variety of formal and non-formal educational contexts, and she is the Director of the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW). In 2020, Dr. Scherer received the Southern Region Distinguished Extension Educator Award from the American Association for Agricultural Education which recognizes her efforts and achievements in education. The award highlighted her outstanding success in mentoring graduate students, development of the Graduate Extension Scholars program, and leadership in the USDA-NIFA Multistate Research Project.

Fun fact: Hannah is an avid knitter and recently completed her first successful sweater project.

Highlights from the Campus Engagement Network

STEM for All Video Showcase Submission
The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech received a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant in 2016 from the National Science Foundation. The goal of the project was to transform the department with narrow curricular paths that attracted a limited range of traditional engineers to a department that draws and retains a wider pool of students and prepares them to be holistic professionals for a broader range of careers. One strategy for realizing this vision included forging new connections to K-12 education. In partnership through CENI, Ms. Kim Keith worked with Dr. Chelsea Haines Lyles to develop a mutually beneficial service-learning class project that met both the RED team’s goals and Floyd County Schools’ goals of helping teachers integrate the 2018 Computer Science standards of learning into the curriculum. Watch this video Broadening Participation: Integrating CS Standards to learn how the project team did this. 



Hokie For A Day Doodle By Steven White

We had the pleasure of Steven White joining us during one of our Hokie for a Day field trips this semester. He was able to capture some of the activities the 5th graders enjoyed in his doodle! The Hokie for a Day exhibitors featured included the Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Tech Digging in the Crates, the Hokienauts, Mining and Minerals Engineering, and members of Dr. Chelsea Haines Lyles' undergraduate service learning class. Check out some more of Steven's doodles here.

Thinkabit Lab Summer Camp 2022
Come invent with us this summer! Attend a summer camp at the Thinkabit Lab at no cost. The Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab is a hands-on invention-based program committed to inspiring the next generation of inventors. Through this program, students will create circuits like an electrical engineer, code like a computer scientist, and build an invention like a mechanical engineer.

Camp dates are from June 26th-July 1st. 
Contact for More Information: Donald Pizzullo
Phone: (540)-767-6102
Email: pizzullo@vt.edu
Apply Here: https://tech4good2022.questionpro.com

A Handbook for Supporting Today's Graduate Students 

Dr. Chelsea Haines Lyles, Natali Huggins, and Dr. Claire Robbins contributed a chapter on Unveiling the Hidden Curriculum within Graduate Education to a new text on supporting graduate students. The text includes topics such as supporting students from marginalized social identities, addressing academic and professional skill development, and issues related to student support outside of the classroom like mental health, graduate student organizations, and financial matters. 

A copy of the volume may be purchased here - use discount code: HBKGS20 for 20% off and free shipping.

CENI and CENI Partners in the News

  • The focus for the 2022 Virginia School Boards Association Showcases for Success was Virginia Public Schools: Setting the Precedent. Several innovative programs from across Virginia are featured in this newsletter. Among them is Radford City Public Schools, recognized for their "Passport to Career and College- Oh, The Places You'll Go!" program. With CENI providing assessment for this program, P2C allows freshmen the opportunity to engage in career exploration activities, develop professionalism, and apply what they have learned in real-world settings.
  • David Knight received an NSF grant to research the various mechanisms of funding- fellowships, teaching assistantships, traineeships, etc- that influence student's pursuit of doctorates in STEM fields. He and his team took a deep dive into understanding the differences in funding and how that impacts students. Working on his team is one of our own, Chelsea Haines Lyles, who has done tremendous work on the grant. Click here to read more about the research grant, findings, and what is next to come.
  • Organized by ICAT and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the ACCelerate Festival's high-tech exhibits amaze visitors for the third time in a row. They inspire inventions and innovations to visitors not through simply looking at displays under glass, but through interactions and conversations. Read more about this year's event here.
  • Three years after its debut in 2019 at the ACCelerate Festival, the Vauquois Experience Exhibit is finding a new purpose. Students get the chance to experience underground tunnels built in France during World War 1 through virtual reality. In a short video, Todd Ogle talks about his immersive exhibit becoming an educational tool for middle and high school students to learn about World War 1 because of its nontraditional way of teaching. Watch this video.

CENI Graduates 

We want to take the time to recognize and appreciate some of our graduating student staff. We have enjoyed working with you and are so proud of you! We wish you success in your future endeavors, congratulations on your graduation!

Haseb has worked with CENI since Fall 2019. He has been instrumental in facilitating the Virginia Tech Science Festival in all its forms - pre-pandemic festival, online scientist meetups during COVID, and school field trips as restrictions were lifted. His many skills in databases, marketing, social media, and communications have been put to good use. Haseb was recognized by the Pamplin College of Business with the Outstanding Pamplin Senior Award. 



Cody Klein has worked at CENI since Fall 2019 and has continued to grow into his role as an evaluation assistant. He has been a consistent, crucial contributor to the center’s evaluation activities, preparing data collection instruments, assisting with data analysis, and preparing data visualizations for written evaluation reports. 



Sarah Howell has worked at CENI over the last year, first in her role as an undergraduate learning assistant for Dr. Lyles’ service-learning course and adding undergraduate research responsibilities to that role. She contributed to the service-learning course by leading class discussions, preparing class materials, and modeling STEM classroom outreach. Her outstanding contributions were recognized by receiving the center’s first Campus internEXP Intern of the Month in October 2021.

CENI Student Spotlight

Haseb Alim 

Haseb was awarded Outstanding Pamplin Senior for his dedication to leadership, extracurricular activities, community service, and extraordinary grade! During his time at Virginia Tech, he was deeply involved in diversity and inclusion efforts and a multitude of activities. Watch this video of what faculty members have to say about him and what this award means for him. Having him as our outreach assistant at CENI has been a tremendous help these past years. We were so happy to see him speak at the Pamplin graduation and we are so proud of him!  

Jennifer Huang

Jennifer was awarded Campus internEXP March Intern of the Month! Within her first month of employment, she contributed to center-wide educational outreach events, completed the training necessary for evaluation data analysis, and learned new software programs. When the staff member that leads a major preK-12 educational outreach event was out ill, Jennifer volunteered to lead the field trip for 50+ fifth graders, teachers, and chaperones, including giving the introductory welcome and college awareness presentation. 

Broader Impacts

Please keep CENI in mind for your grant writing and broader impacts evaluation needs. Learn more about our broader impacts and evaluation consultation services here.



National Science Foundation CAREER grant applications are due July 27, 2022. Researchers are seeking opportunities to share their research with public audiences. To include your summer camps and other preK-12 educational programming in CENI's menu of broader impacts, email Dr. Chelsea Haines Lyles (clyles@vt.edu).

CENI Educator Liaison Corner


Floyd County Public Schools 
Floyd Elementary School’s first graders are officially Super Programmers thanks to students from the ENGE 2984G: SS: Service Learning and Beyond class. During three in person visits, FES students were introduced to computer science vocabulary, programmed their "Robot Teacher" to navigate through the classroom, and composed and debugged algorithms on BeeBot to accomplish specific goals. Students learned cause and effect relationships, directional language, and early coding skills.

Looking for a way to communicate K-12 ongoings thru the summer? The FCPS webpage now has a “Community Opportunities” link that will keep families up to date on residential and day-long summer camps, reading programs, and various activities. Check it out! Informational links can be shared with Kim Keith, VT-PK12 liaison at keithk@floyd.k12.va.us

Radford City Public Schools
VT Mechanical Engineering students hosted a STEM exhibition at the VT Drone Park and introduced high school students from Radford and Grayson County to projects and technical applications of mechanical engineering and related STEM studies.  Students were able to see a variety of projects and demonstrations, ask questions of those who have worked on them, and interact with a number of the exhibitions.  Exhibitions included:

  • Autonomous Drone – VT mechanical engineering student demonstrated what is required to build and fly an autonomous drone
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team – Members of one of VT’s car teams discussed what goes into making a hybrid electric vehicle
  • LED Light Display – VT mechanical engineering student demonstrated programming though an interactive light display
  • AutoDrive – VT AutoDrive team members demonstrated and discussed some of the technology that goes into making an autonomous ground vehicle, including lidar and GPS
  • Fog Harps - VT mechanical engineering student demonstrated methods for harvesting water from fog

It was a wonderful experience for our students – many thanks to Al Wicks and the Mechanical Engineering department!

Virginia Tech Roanoke Center
STEAM Day 2022 is coming to Roanoke on Friday, October 28
https://www.vtrc.vt.edu/K12/steam-day.html. Roanoke STEAM Day is hosted by partners that include the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center, Virginia Tech Ware Lab, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Science Museum of Western Virginia, Taubman Museum of Art,  Virginia Museum of Transportation, Radford University Carilion, Clean Valley Council and Virginia Western Community College. Registration is open now for exhobotprs and those who wish to attend. 



Science Museum of Western Virginia
Dr. Ling Li and his beautiful children cut the ribbon on a brand new virtual reality experience exploring the architecture of starfish skeletons. Dr. Li was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation, and worked with CENI liaison Dr. Phyllis Newbill to design an effective broader impacts statement, secure letters of support, and facilitate the exhibit design. 

Dates and Deadlines


5/30: University Holiday (Memorial Day)
6/19: Juneteenth
6/20: University Holiday (Juneteenth observed)
5/20: University closed in observance of Juneteenth
6/22: Science on Tap: Building Soils for a Healthy Life
6/27-7/1: Thinkabit Lab Summer Camp
7/4: University Holiday (Independence Day)
7/27: NSF CAREER grants due
10/28: Roanoke STEAM Day 2022
11/12: Virginia Tech Science Festival