STEAM Night and Computer Science in Virginia

30+ people sitting in chairs facing a projection screen.
Attendees listen to the presenters as they learned about what made Nottoway’s STEAM night successful.

There was a great turn-out at the November SVRTC meeting that included thirty-six members from sixteen SVRTC school divisions (Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland. Danville, Dinwiddie, Franklin City, Greensville, Hopewell, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, and Prince Edward). 

Members learned from Nottoway Public School educators, Annah Bowen and Judy Deichman, as they presented on the planning and implementation of a free STEAM Night event that attracted over 450 students and had an estimated attendance of over 1,000 participants.   Students and their families were able to visit over twenty stations that included drones, virtual reality, a LEGO wall, Bluebots, a Dome Theater, and many others.  They suggested their community outreach and partnerships with local businesses helped make the night a success.

Participants learned and asked questions about Salem County’s efforts to integrated computer science standards, K-12.

A second presenter, Megan Graybill from Salem County Public Schools, provided members with an overview how her county was addressing the new computer science standards.  Time was spent discussing the computer science standards and how they can be correlated to activities and content that are already being taught in the classroom.

MEC’s Initiative Brings Broadband to Rural Counties

SVRTC members from thirteen divisions (Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Danville, Hopewell, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Prince Edward, Prince George, and Sussex) were present at the first meeting of 2018-19.  The meeting included a presentation from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) on an initiative that will bring ultrahigh -speed fiber broadband to many rural areas over the course of three-years. This initiative was made possible through grant funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC).

David Lipscomb, Vice President of Member and Energy Services with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC), presents to SVRTC members

David Lipscomb, Vice President of Member and Energy Services with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) elaborated on the High-Speed Fiber Optic Broadband pilot program during the meeting.  He explained that MEC has plans to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure it utilizes to provide electric distribution service to offer ultrahigh-speed fiber broadband to its members and their communities in Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton and Sussex and the North Carolina counties of Granville, Person, Northampton, Vance, and Warren. Nine of these are SVRTC divisions. Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer for the SVRTC has worked closely with Mr. Lipcomb during early phases of the project to install and test the fiber optic technology that will be used during a typical home installation. Mr. Wilson stated “The Internet service of this network has far exceeded my expectations. I have tried on numerous occasions to get reliable, adequate, and affordable broadband in our area with little success. I believe we are finally seeing it become a reality.” Mr. Wilson indicated that the service he tested has provided a constant 50 Mbps in download and in upload bandwidth and that he had experienced no buffering or other video issues. “It’s delightful!” he said.

During their monthly meeting, the SVRTC stated its support of this last mile fiber optic project that will serve so many of the consortium’s members. It is expected as more and more families come on-line more and more students will benefit from the Internet they may not have had or that did not work well. More details of MEC’s high-speed broadband pilot program including pricing can be found in Mr. Lipscomb’s presentation, Empower Broadband.

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