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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Virginia’s First Lady Visits Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab

By Sherry DiBari

Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam had an eventful day at the Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab (iLab) in Newport News on Tuesday. She learned how to change a bit on a ShopBot machine, tested a virtual reality headset and threatened to drop a beat. "I know y'all want me to throw down some beats," Northam laughed. "But I won't, because my daughter would be horrified."

Northam toured the facility and observed a group of Hampton City School teachers participating in a "STEM Imagined" professional development workshop.

The teachers were learning new technology and methods on incorporating STEM activities into the curriculum. Tuesday's offerings included a mixed reality experience, 3D printing, beatmaking, Python coding and studio recording.

Northam thanked the teachers effusively. "We appreciate you and thank you so much," she said repeatedly.

"Here you are, right after the last day of school, working hard to improve yourself even more. That's what teachers do," she said. "You are all amazing, you are superheroes and we so very much appreciate you."

The iLab, an instructional hub for STEM learning, is part of the Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center (BCIOC), a collaboration between Old Dominion University, Newport News Shipbuilding and the City of Newport News. BCIOC opened in August of 2019.

"This recently opened regional resource will serve as a hub for developing training programs and curriculum materials that will enable K-12 teachers to seamlessly connect lab experiences with Virginia Standards of Learning," said Venicia Ferrell, research associate at ODU's Center for Educational Partnerships.

The First Lady left with promising last words, "If you survived this year, you can survive anything," she said. "This fall, we'll be back to even better than we were before."

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