If your Summer STEAM question isn’t answered below, please contact us.

Summer STEAM

What are your selection criteria?

We look at academic performance, teacher recommendation, student interest in and out of school in STEAM and non-STEAM-related activities. We are committed to mirroring the demographics of the Commonwealth of Virginia as permissable by law. All invited students meet our performance qualifications.

Who serves on the Review Committee?

We invite our course faculty (or a representative where there are multiple faculty) to review applicants for their respective course. Members of the Virginia STEAM Academy Board membership and leadership staff round out the Review Committee.

What is the profile of a Summer STEAM student?

Summer STEAM Ambassadors have diverse profiles. Some have participated in the nation’s most prestigious enrichment academies like Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth and Duke’s Talent Identification Program. Others have not. Some have competed regionally or nationally in MathCounts, Science Olympiad, First Robotics, chess, or piano, to name a few. Others show interest in after-school robotics, camping, scouts, orchestra or band, sports, theater, faith based organizations and volunteering at their local museum or civic center. Whatever their pursuits, our Ambassadors share a hunger for intellectual STEAM challenge, a zeal for after-school, camp, weekend or other programs (STEAM and non-STEAM related), a desire to learn in residential community, leadership potential, and kindness.

We wish we could bring all the able, interested, motivated and kind youngsters across the Commonwealth of Virginia to Summer STEAM. With our partners and champions, we’re steadily working to increase awareness of and ability to offer STEAM-rich learning opportunities to all students.

Why not just accept the most exceptionally able students across the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Our vision is to attract more students to STEAM disciplines, accelerate learning for highly able students, and positively impact the Commonwealth of Virginia’s economic future. Summer STEAM is an important component of this vision.

At Summer STEAM, our motto is to inspire and expose. Some students have been exposed and others excel after having been given the opportunity to experience rich, integrated STEAM teaching, learning, and leadership opportunities with like-minded, like-motivated peers. Summer STEAM serves both groups.

We earnestly reach out across the Commonwealth of Virginia to identify students who have a genuine interest in a STEAM subject, who find joy in wrestling with new material, particularly as evidenced by their response to the readiness challenge posted online, who show leadership potential, and who are mature and self-governing. These are among the characteristics we ask applicants to include in their optional statement of interest. We also ask teachers to address these characteristics in their recommendation letter.

How does the Virginia STEAM Academy intend to mirror the Commonwealth?

When identifying potential candidates, the Virginia STEAM Academy takes a very holistic approach. In reviewing candidates, who have first met the initial qualifications of each program, the Academy then considers the overall experience level of each candidate and the types of exposure to the associated material in which the specific programs will provide. Each candidate is considered not just for the level of exposure which the candidate will gain by admission, but also the potential exposure the candidate can provide fellow students.

What can I do to help my child prepare a competitive application for Summer STEAM 2017?

Your child is a success. We thank you for considering the Virginia STEAM Academy as part of your child’s learning experience. We sincerely wish we could accommodate all the able and interested students across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We continuously seek to improve. We want to give teachers and students more direct prompts concerning the readiness challenge. We want to know if the student completed the challenge problems and how s/he responded to them. Did the student enjoy them? Did s/he find the problems interesting, challenging? Has the student encountered such types of problems in or outside of school? What kinds of serious math, science, engineering, or technology activities have the student pursued above and beyond classroom assignments?

We’ll ask the teacher completing the application how long s/he has worked with the student applicant and whether the student is taking a course on grade level or above.

From the application, teacher review and student input, we will work to identify students who demonstrate their resilience, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and creativity, and who understand the value of learning from failure. The world is full of ambiguity. Resilience, teamwork, curiosity and creativity are hallmarks for 21st century leadership success.

We’ll ask specifically if the student has had overnight camp experience.

Does the Virginia STEAM Academy benefit from sharing information about other summer STEM camps and programs?

Yes and no. We believe in consortium leadership. We knew when we embarked on this project that we could not deliver exceptional STEAM teaching and learning without the input and support of students, parents, K-12, college and university educators, businesses, science and engineering entities, arts and civic partners, and the military, where appropriate. In fact, we firmly believe that our offerings are exponentially enhanced by our partnerships. And so, we share. We share information. We point parents to other offerings, and we encourage students to take on the most affirming and challenging coursework they can; both in and out of school, STEAM and non-STEAM related.

Virginia STEAM Academy is a publicly accessible offering. We receive no financial gain by providing information about other summer STEM enrichment opportunities. We see it as a service to our partners and students, teachers and guidance counselors.

We are privileged to have five official university and five official science and engineering partners. Each has agreed to work with us to co-develop curriculum, provide mentorship and sabbatical opportunities for students and faculty, and jointly pursue funding from foundations, state and federal sources where there is mission match. In addition, we have other universities and business partners who are providing in-kind support, including several outstanding faculty for Summer STEAM.

Recognizing that we cannot accommodate all of the wonderful youngsters who express interest in Summer STEAM, we ask our partners if they will provide a list of their summer STEM camp offerings for rising middle school students. We share this information with students we cannot accommodate. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many parents thank us for the information and resources.

We do not track if or how students and families use the information provided. No dollars come to the Virginia STEAM Academy based on a family’s summer STEM enrichment selection.