By Amber Kennedy

To celebrate National STEM Day, which is scheduled for Nov. 8, the Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center (VMASC) is collaborating with regional K-12 school divisions to issue an engineering design challenge for students in third grade and above. Over six school divisions across Hampton Roads and an elementary school in Costa Rica plan to participate.

"The day inspires students to explore the engineering design process, pursue interests in connected STEM career fields and cultivate deeper understandings of their own STEM skill perceptions," said Jessica Johnson, director of STEM and student engagement at VMASC.

Each classroom will receive a project packet that provides activity information, supplies and directions to complete this year's engineering design challenge. Teachers are also provided with resources, integrated STEM career videos and literacy components for activities designed to align with multiple Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning (SOLs).

The curriculum is adaptable, allowing teachers to alter criteria, materials and constraints based on their classroom needs. The challenge is not a competition, but a way to engage students in thinking about design, applying 21st-century STEM skills and using engineering principles.

When the design projects are complete, teachers will be invited to share videos and photos of the prototypes on social media, tagging @VMASC_STEM for chances to win classroom STEM technology.

Schools interested in participating can email through Nov. 5.

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