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May 2023 Newsletter

April 26, 2023

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April was a busy month for CENI and our partners! We finished up another semester of Hokie for a Day field trips bringing nearly 600 fifth graders from Title I schools to campus. Meanwhile, we presented research projects, took home awards for hard work, and helped students in our surrounding schools immerse themselves in STEM/STEAM experiences inside and outside of the classroom setting. The school year is not over yet, and there is still much more to celebrate and experience. Stay tuned for more exciting opportunities, including final updates about ICAT Day!

Chelsea Haines

Associate Director for Broader Impacts

ICAT Creativity + Innovation Day 2023 is happening next Monday!

This year’s theme is Beyond, and we have a wide selection of creations, demonstrations, and activities that push the boundaries of science, engineering, arts, and design. The celebration is on Monday, May 1, 2023, at the Moss Arts Center. Exhibits will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You will learn about innovative projects, the processes involved, the opportunities and challenges, and the insights. Be sure to vote for your favorite exhibit, as we will announce the People's Choice Award. Come join us for the opportunity to explore and engage with like-minded individuals across disciplines. Shortly after the showcase, we will move to the Creativity + Innovation District Building (CID), for a panel discussion, awards presentation, mixer, and the Rhizome community student projects. Panelists are ICAT graduates, who have returned to Blacksburg, to share the kinds of work they do beyond a transdisciplinary education, how disciplines and identity are intertwined, and how that can help and transform. Immerse yourself in the world of creativity and innovation, and see what kind of amazing things we can accomplish.

Creativity and Innovation Day 2023

  • 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Exhibits open at Moss Arts Center
  • 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. – Panel discussion and awards presentation at Creativity and Innovation District (CID) building
  • 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. – Reception at CID
  • 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Rhizome community student projects at CID

CENI Students Present Their Research and Evaluation Projects

Faika Tahir Jan and Brandon B. Senior, two former CENI graduate student researchers and current Ph.D. students (sociology and higher education, respectively), presented "Exploring service learning research in undergraduate education: A scoping review"  at the 2023 annual conference of the Southern Sociological Society in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Drs. Chelsea Haines and Catherine Cotrupi are also contributors to this research project. 

Brandon Senior [left] and Faika Tahir Jan [right] present at the Southern Sociological Society's Annual Conference.
Brandon Senior [left] and Faika Tahir Jan [right] present at the Southern Sociological Society's Annual Conference.

Baitong Liu, a clinical neuroscience major and undergraduate research assistant with CENI, presented “How do we know informal learning works: Assessing informal learning within university settings using the visitor engagement framework”  at the 39th Annual GPSS Research Symposium and Exposition held March 29 in Blacksburg, Virginia. This study is coauthored by Ashley Costello, Faika Tahir Jan, Chelsea Haines, Phyllis Newbill, and Lisa McNair from Virginia Tech. 

Baitong stands in front of her presentation in business professional dress, holding a baby plant.
Baitong stands in front of her presentation in business professional dress, holding a baby plant.

CENI Employees Recognized

A graduate student researcher for CENI, Emily Burns, was recognized by the Virginia Tech Graduate School for her teaching at a reception on March 30. She received the "Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Instructor of Record Excellence Award." Emily taught the course, "Educating Exceptional Learners Across the Lifespan" for three years, demonstrating a strong commitment to her students' learning and modeling how to make instruction and learning resources accessible to students with disabilities. Her students were enthusiastic about her class as these comments demonstrate: "Fantastic teacher! She is very clearly passionate about what she does and has great knowledge on the topic! She is very flexible and available. She did a great job..." and "AMAZING...she was great at explaining the material and what was required of us....she genuinely cares about her students..." Emily Burns recently completed her Ph.D. requirements in the Higher Education Administration program and will graduate in the upcoming spring commencement. Congratulations Dr. Burns!

Emily Burns [center], holds her award alongside Angela Hayes [left] and Dean of Graduate Education Aimee Suprenant [right].
Emily Burns [center], holds her award alongside Angela Hayes [left] and Dean of Graduate Education Aimee Suprenant [right].

This month, we would also like to congratulate Dr. Chelsea Haines for being elected to the Board of Trustees for the National Education Finance Academy at their annual meeting. Additionally, she was recognized as a REAL MVP by Virginia Tech's Blackwood Department of Real Estate at their April Industry Advisory Board meeting for exemplary contributions to the academic program. 

Ben Knapp
Ben Knapp

Meet the Campus Engagement Network:

Dr. Ben Knapp

This month, CENI would like to highlight the work of Dr. Ben Knapp. Dr. Knapp is the Executive Director of the Institute of Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech. He has held a fascination with human-computer interactions for over 30 years and has let that lead him into becoming a professor of computer science at Virginia Tech. Before coming to Virginia Tech, Dr. Knapp earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. He has served as Fulbright Senior Specialist at University College, Dublin; chief technology officer of the Technology Research for Independent Living Centre; as well as the director of technology at MOTO Development Group in San Francisco, California. At MOTO Development Group, he managed teams of engineers and designers for companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Logitech.

Additionally, Dr. Knapp is a co-founder of BioControl Systems, which creates bioelectric measurement devices to aid artistic interactions. He also holds previous instructional experience as a professor and chair of the Department of Computer, Information, and Systems Engineering at San Jose State University. Dr. Knapp has been a Principal Investigator (PI) in pan-European projects such as Common Awareness and Knowledge Platform for Studying and Enabling Independent Living (CAPSIL) and Social Interaction and Entrainment Using Music Performance (SIEMPRE). Additionally, he has coordinated the EU project, Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development (BRAID). He holds twelve patents and is the co-inventor of the BioMuse system that allows artists to use gesture, cognition, and emotional state to interact with audio and visual media.

CENI and Partners in the News

Broader Impacts

CENI ICAT Playdate Recap

Chelsea Haines, Associate Director of Broader Impacts, presented “Broader Impacts for NSF CAREER Grants: How CENI Connects University Researchers and the Public” at an April ICAT Playdate. Haines was joined by NSF CAREER awardees Ling Li, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Michael Schulz, assistant professor of chemistry, who shared more about how they are addressing broader impacts through their research and educational outreach. Watch the Playdate on ICAT’s Youtube channel. 

In alignment with the monthly theme for Multiplex, “Broadening Participation in STEM by Focusing on Identity Development,” Iris R. Wagstaff, Ph.D. shares a blog titled “Identity as a Lever for Broadening Participation and Persistence in STEM." She also introduces the webinar panel that she will moderate on May 2, 2023, at 3:00 p.m.. If interested in learning more about the STEM experience for underrepresented minorities, including the challenges and barriers that they face in the field, people from every background are encouraged to sign up for this virtual discussion. For more information about the moderator and panelists, visit the Multiplex website

Broader Impacts 101

Thursday, May 4, 1:30-3 p.m.
Creativity + Innovation District (CID) Multipurpose Library

Many funding agencies now require impacts that extend beyond an academic audience to benefit broader society. The Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI) housed within the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) collaborates with university researchers to develop and evaluate broader impacts plans that are mutually beneficial to researchers and the public. CENI leverages established networks of university faculty and staff who do educational outreach, as well as formal and informal educators from organizations such as preK-12 school districts, museums, maker spaces, and the Virginia Tech Science Festival. These networks help faculty share their research with public audiences in ways that benefit communities. In this session, Drs. Chelsea Haines and Phyllis Newbill will share processes and support available to Virginia Tech researchers, followed by a panel that will share their experiences with successful collaborations.

Contact: Chelsea Haines

Service Learning Course Update

Thank you to recent guest speakers in the service learning class! Ashley Costello presented on leadership and service learning. Rubaina Khan presented on global and immersive service-learning from an empathy lens and cultural dimensions of service learning. Diana Bairoktarova shared information about her career path. 

CENI Educator Liaison Corner

Montgomery County Public Schools

Christiansburg High School Oceanography students spent the day visiting campus and seeing firsthand the lessons they are learning in class translated to real life. Students toured the Center for Marine Autonomy and Robotics, the Hydroelasticity Lab, and the Cavitation Lab to learn more about future Ocean Engineering majors and career opportunities. They also got a behind-the-scenes look at the human-powered submarine and sailboat teams' current projects.  

Kipps Elementary 5th graders were excited to be on campus and have the opportunity to engage in physics with Alma Robinson’s Enriched Physics Outreach students. Kipps students enjoyed learning about magnets and electromagnets through hands-on activities and demonstrations. They even got to make a working motor! 

Students in Environmental Science and Honors Biology at Auburn High School had the opportunity to learn about invasive species and what is being done to protect native species from these pests. Grace O’Malley, a Ph.D. student in the College of Science, spends her summers studying the impacts of the invasive bullfrog in the deserts of Arizona. During her presentation, Grace spoke about her research and how her love for science set her on her current path. 

Interested in partnering with MCPS? Contact Amy Guerin!

Floyd County Public Schools

FCPS continues to appreciate the inspiration and innovation it receives from collaborations with Virginia Tech. Kindly reach out to Kim Keith if you would like to be connected with an educator or student group for your outreach and research goals.

Pulaski County Public Schools

Interested in partnering with Pulaski County Public Schools?  Contact Megan Atkinson.

Radford City Public Schools

Radford High School students experienced biomechanics in action at Virginia Tech’s Biomechanics Day.

Captain Vince Houston, from the Virginia Tech Police Department, met with Radford High School students for a “Bobcat Career Chat.”

Radford High School sophomores participated in a “Mingle Like You Mean It” networking and career event in partnership with the Virginia Tech College Access Collaborative. The “Mingle” is the culminating event of the Passport to Career and College program and included a number of wonderful VT affiliates:

  • Karen Eley Sanders - College Access Collaborative 
  • Brooke Battle, Nicole Diloia - VT Admissions
  • Matthew Camden, Eileen Herbers, Balu Guduri, Vicki Williams, Brian Wotring - VTTI
  • Katie Brooks, Chris Savage, Sherrie Bocock, Maddie Bradford - Science Museum of Western Virginia
  • Jamie King - University Arborist
  • Shara Appanaitis - Moss Arts Center
Jamie King [white helmet], a Virginia Tech Arborist, addresses a group of students during the "Mingle Like You Mean It" networking event.
Jamie King [white helmet], a Virginia Tech Arborist, addresses a group of students during the "Mingle Like You Mean It" networking event.

Highlights from the Campus Engagement Network

Hokie BugCamp --- Registration Is Now Open!

Where? Heritage Park in Blacksburg

When? Friday, July 7 (10 a.m.-12 p.m.) & Saturday, July 8 (10 a.m.-12 p.m.) and (1-3 p.m.)

Who? Children ages 6-13 years old

At Hokie BugCamp, campers can expect to enjoy experiences that focus on the collection, identification, and pinning of insects. Registration is limited to a first-come basis, so be sure to act fast. If you want more detailed information, then please seek the Hokie BugCamp website page

Virginia Tech Maker Camp

Where? Newman Library, Virginia Tech

When? Tuesday, July 25 - Friday, July 28 (9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) 

Who? Children ages 10-14 years old

At Maker Camp, students will work with other campers to build something out of found materials (plastics, cardboard, etc.). While developing their projects, they will gain experience in design, 3D printing, coding, collaboration, and presenting. If you know of a student that may be interested in joining this four-day camp, register soon to guarantee them a spot, as space is limited. 

Wonder Universe

Wonder Universe is looking for summer STEM Saturday volunteers! These volunteers host an engaging STEM activity or demonstration for ages 0-10 for 1-2 hours on a Saturday morning. Please email if interested in volunteering, either as an individual or a group. 

Wonder Universe is also excited to announce that two new exhibits will be coming to the Museum in 2023. The first is a Freeman Foundation Asian Cultures Exhibit from the Association of Children's Museums focused on play and Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese cultures. The second is a Dragon's Cave Literacy Corner, a collaboration with Roanoke College and the Dragon Research Collaborative group made possible by a Virginia Humanities grant. Stay tuned for updates and grand opening celebrations for each of these unique additions to our regional children's museum.

Research Recruitment

Opportunity to visit the Virginia Tech Learn Lab: Connecting Math and Reading

The Virginia Tech Learning and Development Lab is recruiting participants for an ongoing research study “Connecting Math and Reading.” This research study is approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB Protocol #21-669). The project aims to better understand children’s cognitive development and examine associations among children’s different math and vocabulary skills.

Who? 3rd-6th grade students and their parents

What? Student participants will be exposed to a variety of math activities and vocabulary questions. Parents will fill out a survey. This study will be conducted in one-on-one interactions with a Virginia Tech student. Parents or children can opt out at any point during the study. 

Where? Wallace Hall on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg Campus

Compensation? $15 for your time and effort

Time Commitment? One-time visit, 45-50 minutes 

If you are interested in more information about having your child participate, please email the Learning and Development Lab or seek their website. For more detailed information or schedule a visit to campus for the study, you can also view the sign up sheet.

If you have any additional questions, please contact the research team directly by emailing Caroline Hornburg

Upcoming Deadlines and Events

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