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Summer STEAM 2017

For the fifth consecutive year, Virginia STEAM Academy is privileged to offer its signature summer program, Summer STEAM. Summer STEAM is a week-long, intensive, immersive academy intended to inspire and expose current 5th – 7th grade students across the Commonwealth of Virginia to STEAM content, applied learning, and leadership development.  Summer STEAM 2017 faculty are drawn from partner institution Richard Bland College of William & Mary, Washington & Lee University, Arlington Public Schools and Lynchburg Public Schools.

The Virginia Mathematics and Science Consortium recognized Virginia STEAM with a 2016 “Programs that Work” award.

Since inception, more than 1,500 students have applied to Summer STEAM. Nearly 500 Summer STEAM ambassadors, representing every school region in the commonwealth, have successfully competed for a seat and completed the program.

Ratings by students, parents, and faculty have been consistently high.

One session will be offered at Summer STEAM 2017:

  • July 9-15, 2017 at Richard Bland College of William & Mary, in Prince George County.

Any Virginia student enrolled in grades 5-7 during the 2016/2017 school year may apply. Up to 60 seats available.

Online applications are highly preferred and the following items are required to be reviewed for admission

  • Summer STEAM Application
  • Teacher Recommendation
  • Student Interest Form
  • Financial Aid Form if Financial Assistance is Needed 

Mailed applications may be sent to Virginia STEAM Academy, P.O. Box 324, Suffolk, VA 23439.

All applications are due by March 10, 2017.


Decision letters will be sent by March 31, 2017. All applicants will receive a decision letter via email to the parent email address.

Looking for the readiness challenge questions? Click on your course of interest. A PDF file with the course readiness challenge questions will download.

  • Application & Other Form Links

  • Course Offerings

    • Summer STEAM young scholars will spend five hours each day in their chosen course. Morning sessions (2 ½ hours each day) are devoted to mini-labs focused on theory. Afternoon labs (2 ½ hours each day) are devoted to more in-depth, applied learning experiences that extend the morning’s activities. Evenings are protected for play, wellness and leadership activities.

      Summer STEAM 2017 will offer four courses. For the first time, applying students may RANK their course preference (#1 (most desired) – #4 (least desired)). Please note, courses are at varying levels of difficulty: one star = introductory; four stars = most challenging.


      Looking for the readiness challenge questions? Click on your course of interest. A PDF file with the course readiness challenge questions will download.

      COURSE #1: Math Ninjas: Preparing for Competition *  

      Discover the hidden secrets of solving multi step math problems. You will practice, train, and master the art of becoming a math ninja. The rules for math will be discovered and unveiled though trial and error, but honor will prevail! Your training will lead you on difficult journeys to great competitions where you will exercise your new problem-solving strategies.  After a brain break, you will challenge other ninjas in the math arena. You will face intriguing problems, like those introduced in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, American Mathematics Competition, and Continental Math League. Working with your ninja team, you will create a showcase of the math legend you have become through your victories and your losses.  Join us as we take control of the math challenges we face in our lives!

      Faculty Description: This course is team taught by exemplar teachers from the Lynchburg and Arlington public school systems. Mrs. Gigi Sweeney, Lynchburg Public Schools, has taught for more than 28 years in math, science, and advanced/gifted courses.  She has served as coach for Odyssey of the Mind and First Lego League teams. The teams competed at the state level, where she has also served as judge. A three-time Teacher of the Year recipient and semi-finalist for the McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence, Mrs. Sweeney holds a bachelor’s in Education from Radford University and a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Virginia Tech University.

      Ms. Stephanie Sklar, Arlington Public Schools, is now in her sixth year of teaching. She served as a teaching assistant for Summer STEAM 2016’s Rockets, Ships, and the Material Science Behind Them course. Ms. Sklar has taught advanced middle school math where she uses puzzles, past math competition questions, and games to help students see the logic and beauty of math problem solving. Ms. Sklar holds a bachelor’s in Math Education from Boston University and a Master’s in Math Leadership from George Mason University.

      COURSE #2: Environmental Science: Local, Regional, and Global Impact ** 

      Expand your mind — and your learning horizons!  This course presents a journey from the classroom to the laboratory and onward to the great outdoors.  Students will study the science of air quality, water quality, and a changing terrestrial landscape.  Students will explore the many and varied human contributions affecting the environment.  The class will focus on global issues, like changes in climate; regional issues, like natural resource extractions; and local issues, like urbanization. We will also spend time discussing the organisms that live within these selected ecosystems and their interaction with the environment. Lastly, we will evaluate changes in human behavior, review governmental efforts to protect the environment, and discuss a path forward in the field of preservation including things committed students can do to prioritize the welfare of our fragile planet.

      Faculty description: Dr. Eric Miller was a dual enrollment student at Evangel Christian School and Richard Bland College of William & Mary (RBC). After graduating from RBC in 2004, he moved to Morgantown, West Virginia where he earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries management from West Virginia University (WVU).  From there, Dr. Miller moved to Alaska to work temporarily at a salmon hatchery. He then returned to WVU, earned his master’s degree and obtained his own $360,000 grant to pursue a Ph.D. at WVU in Forest Resource Science. Dr. Miller is an Assistant Professor of Biology at RBC.  In addition to his courses, Dr. Miller developed a five-week summer course where he took students to the mountains of West Virginia to study brook trout.   

      COURSE #3: Cosmic Mysteries and Universal Forces *** 

      Is the Force within you?  Have you ever wondered: “Do black holes really exist? Is it possible to travel faster than the speed of light? What is ‘dark matter’?” The cosmos is full of mysteries, and the answers can often be found in the realm of physics – through the study of motion, light, and energy. This course combines hands-on activities in physics with a classroom exploration of astronomy and cosmology in a quest to uncover the universal laws that govern the cosmos: the motions of the planets, the rotation of galaxies, even the explosions of supernovas. The class will include evening observation sessions with the college’s telescopes.

      Faculty description: Dr. David Morgan is Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the Richard Bland College of William and Mary. He received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from William and Mary. During this time, his research on supersymmetry and strange-quark stars appeared in Physical Review D and The Astrophysical Journal. Dr. Morgan has taught summer courses for middle school and high school students at William and Mary’s Center for Gifted Education, at the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Vassar College, and at the Virginia Governor’s School for Science. Before returning to Virginia this year, Dr. Morgan was an Assistant Professor of Physics at The New School in Manhattan, and, more recently, the founding Director of the “Innovation Lab” STEM academy for high school students at the Ross School in East Hampton, NY.

      COURSE #4: Python Programming and Robotics **** 

      Back by popular demand! Python Programming and Robotics was first offered at Summer STEAM 2015 at Washington & Lee University. Students’ great interest and rave reviews compel us once again to offer this year’s Summer STEAM young scholars hands-on experience in the delightful challenges of building and programming various kinds of robots. Students will use the Python programming language, the most popular language in both robotics and computer science education. No knowledge of programming is required.

      Faculty Description: Dr. Simon D. Levy holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brandeis University, a master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Connecticut, and a bachelor’s in Linguistics from Yale University. He has spent the past 15 years teaching in the Computer Science Department at Washington and Lee University, where his courses and research include cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and robotics/ drones.

  • Residential Life

    • Summer STEAM is a 24/7, Sunday, July 9, 2017 to Saturday, July 15, 2017 residential experience. It is designed to optimize the rigor and relationships that evolve out of an intensive, immersive living-learning experience with like-minded, like-motivated peers, expert faculty and staff.

      Summer STEAM campers, co-managers, and resident assistants reside on a designated floor in the assigned dorm. The dorm is suite structured. Each suite contains 4 double occupancy rooms. Resident assistants, assigned at a 1:12 ratio, live in a separate room within each suite to provide 24 hour supervision. Each suite has its own bathroom.

      Safety is #1:

      • Criminal background, child protection, and reference checks conducted on ALL adult personnel
      • Campers live and learn on the campus of Richard Bland College of William & Mary in Petersburg
      • Safe, contained living-learning space; one dorm, multiple classrooms
      • Keyed access only to dormitory
      • 24/7 residential staffers
      • Campus health care and local emergency care facilities
      • Campus police
  • Recreation and Personal Discovery

    • Students will have access to recreation and wellness activities. In addition, they will enjoy team building and evening leadership seminars.

      Below is a typical schedule:

      8:15 am                          Breakfast
      9:00 – 11:30 am           Morning Learning Laboratory

      • Math Ninjas: Preparing for Competition
      • Environmental Science: Local, Regional, and Global Impact
      • Cosmic Mysteries and Universal Forces
      • Python Programming & Robotics

      11:30 am                          Lunch
      12:00 pm                         Play
      1:00 – 3:30 pm              Afternoon Learning Laboratory
      3:30 – 4:45 pm              Free Time
      5:00 – 5:45 pm              Dinner
      6:00 pm                           Leadership Seminar
      6:45 pm                            Recreation, Wellness or Quiet Time
      7:45 pm                            Suite Time
      10:00 pm                         Lights out


  • Cost

    • The cost for the 2017 seven-day program is $700.00.  The cost includes tuition, room, board, materials, and recreational activities. If accepted to Summer STEAM 2017, the first non-refundable payment will be due on May 1, and the second and final payment will be due on June 1. Financial Aid is available based on need.

      Financial Aid applications and supporting materials are due along with the student’s application no later than March 10, 2017.

  • Financial Aid

    • This year marks Virginia STEAM Academy’s first year of providing tuition assistance for eligible students who request it based on submission of a completed Financial Aid Form and the relative need of all those applying. The 2017 form is available on the Summer STEAM Application Process page.

      Submit the completed form and attachments no later than March 10, 2017 to be considered for aid. Application for aid does not affect your chances for admission.

  • Selection Process

    • The Virginia STEAM Academy Summer STEAM Review Panel looks at student academic performance, teacher recommendation, student interest in and out of school in STEAM and non-STEAM-related activities, and student statement of interest. All invited students meet our performance qualifications.

      Applications are available beginning late January and will be due March 10, 2017. All applications are sent to the Review Panel after March 10. Late and incomplete applications will not be considered. Decision letters will be communicated via email on or before March 31, 2017. All applicants will receive a decision letter via email.

  • Employment Opportunities

    • The Virginia STEAM Academy Summer STEAM program seeks teacher and resident assistants. Teacher assistants must have subject-matter knowledge aligned to one of the Summer STEAM 2017 courses offered, have worked with adolescents (preferably highly able adolescents), and are willing to create a community that encourages and supports intellectual curiosity, rigorous thinking and a joy for learning. Resident assistants are not required to have subject matter knowledge. However, they, too, must be committed to creating a safe, inclusive, and intellectually and emotionally joyful living-learning community. To learn more about the Teaching Assistant or Resident Assistant positions, please write to

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