Nanotechnology workshop exposes students to emerging A-STEM fields

Virginia State University (VSU) recently hosted 20 middle and high school students and six teachers from across Southside and Hampton Roads Virginia. The group explored the science of nanotechnology.  Nanomaterials are extremely tiny – about the width of an average human hair – but they have an outsized technological impact on our everyday life, including transportation, medicine, national defense and food safety.

This year’s program was the second funded through a two-year, $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to CBAB to integrate nanotechnology into its undergraduate A-STEM (agriculture, science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curricula.  

Participants learned the science and application of the emerging multidisciplinary field of nanotechnology. The program’s focus was on “Connecting Agriculture-STEM (A-STEM) Nanotechnology Research and Education to Virginia Standard of Learning (SOL) and Society.”  The goal of the CBAB integrated research and education enhancement activities was to spark students’ interest in A-STEM fields, ultimately increasing the pipeline of students entering the A-STEM undergraduate academic programs while addressing the significant shortage of USA high tech work force, especially among minorities and women.

The A-STEM Summer Academy was guided by VSU CBAB faculty members Dr. Godwin O. Mbagwu, Program Director and SCHEV Distinguished Professor; Dr. Grace Ndip, education and outreach coordinator; Dr. Daniel Stoelting; Dr. Hua Shen; and VSU and Kathryn Day.

“Working with the students one-on-one and in their groups was a great part of this program. You could tell that they were comfortable with us,” said undergraduate chemistry major, Stephanie Ellis who served as a mentor for the middle and high school students.  

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