Virginia STEAM Academy Welcomes 64 New Summer STEAM Ambassadors

This summer, Virginia STEAM Academy welcomed 64 young scholars to its ranks of Summer STEAM ambassadors. These rising 6th-8th grade middle school students from across the commonwealth join more than 500 Summer STEAM ambassadors. First offered in 2013, Summer STEAM is the Virginia STEAM Academy’s signature, week-long, summer residential program. It is intended to inspire and expose high-ability-high-potential Virginia young scholars to STEAM content, applied learning, and leadership development.




Students compete for a seat at Summer STEAM.

Richard Bland College of William and Mary (RBC) in South Prince George, Virginia served as the host site for Summer STEAM 2017. RBC President Debbie Sydow welcomed students and families. Virginia STEAM Academy Board Chair Jack Ezzell and President and CEO Judy Stewart shared the vision for the Virginia STEAM Academy.

For the first time in Summer STEAM history, Virginia STEAM Academy tiered its course offerings (introductory to most demanding) and charged tuition. More than $6,000 was provided in tuition assistance to students with financial need.

Courses were offered in math competition preparation, environmental science, cosmic mysteries and universal forces, and python programming and robotics. Exceptional instructors from Lynchburg and Arlington Public Schools, Richard Bland College of William and Mary, and Washington and Lee University delivered the instruction. Ninety seven percent of students rated their instructors excellent. The feeling was mutual. Faculty remarked on students’ ability, interest, and motivation. “Having taught courses for both Summer Institute for the Gifted at Vassar and Center for Gifted Ed at William and Mary (and other similar programs) I was VERY impressed with the Summer STEAM students – both in terms of preparedness and attitude,” said RBC Professor and Summer STEAM 2017 Instructor Dr. David Morgan. “They were not only bright and interested, but they all seem[ed] to come to the program ready to LEARN and engage academically. “

One hundred percent of surveyed parents (80% response rate) strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “Summer STEAM is valuable to my child’s personal growth.” Ninety eight percent strongly agreed or agreed with the statement,”Summer STEAM is valuable to my child’s academic experience.” “Our son loved the week of Summer STEAM!!!,” wrote parents Eveline and Mark Norman of Centreville, Virginia. “He learned so much in his selected course and found also the supplemental activities very interesting and rewarding. Further, he really enjoyed having the opportunity to spend a full week with other highly interested and motivated students. Our family can’t speak highly enough of Summer STEAM.”

Summer STEAM ambassadors benefited from strong teaching and residential assistant staff from Boston University and Virginia STEAM Academy partners Richard Bland College of William and Mary, Radford University, and Virginia Tech. Partner College of William and Mary, School of Education once again provided valued survey data design and collection.

Supplemental design build and hands on activities were generously provided by partner Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), as well as STIHL, Inc. and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing.




Virginia STEAM Academy welcomed two Richmond-area Summer STEAM ambassadors and citizen leaders to deliver club activities in robotics and preparing for high school success, respectively.

Summer STEAM 2017 ambassadors rounded out their week by producing culminating team projects, and by participating in the Summer STEAM student talent show tradition, recreation, and wellness activities.

Virginia STEAM Academy sincerely thanks its sponsors, donors, and champions for their support. Click here for a list of sponsors.

When asked, “What will you share about Summer STEAM?” one student responded,

“How fun it was, how much/what I learned, and how the visible horizon for my future has broadened.”
– Summer STEAM 2017 Ambassador

“Virginia STEAM Academy is the most exciting educational initiative that I’ve ever been involved with. I am proud to be affiliated with this organization.”
– Washington & Lee University Professor and Summer STEAM 2017 Python Programming and Robotics Instructor Dr. Simon Levy