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Virginia Tech to Engage Kids In STEM

Virginia Tech has launched a "Kids' Tech University" initiative to introduce 8- to 12-year-old kids to science, technology, engineering, and math research at the university level, as described in this AP story.

Beginning in January, up to 250 youngsters will come to the campus for monthly talks from experts in STEM fields who have been selected for their passion and interest in communicating with children, according to a spokesperson for the program.

Lectures will be built around kid-friendly questions, such as:

"Why are there animals with spotted bodies and striped tails, but no animal with a striped body and a spotted tail?"

"Why are some computer programs so frustrating?"

"Why are plastic bottles bad for alligators?"

To take part in the free program, students must live in Blacksburg, Va., or one of several surrounding counties; they must apply and be enrolled by their parents, but brochures will be distributed by local teachers that request them.

A press release from Virginia Tech gives a few more details about the program and lists the topics of upcoming lectures.

I think the program is promising as a way to create a fun and exciting atmosphere around STEM subjects for younger students. I especially like that it is not a formal class, so students can learn about lots of varied topics. In addition to the lectures, they will be able to take part in group discussions and online activities afterward to help them digest what they've learned.

The idea for Kids' Tech University came from a similar program started in Germany. If it is successful, perhaps other universities will follow in Virginia Tech's footsteps.

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