BLACKSBURG, Va., September 29, 2010 - A popular program designed to cultivate children's interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and strengthen ties between university research communities and the area residents is expanding its reach beyond the Virginia Tech campus. Kids' Tech University (KTU) will offer its first off-campus event, bringing its groundbreaking program to the Virginia State University (VSU) campus.

leaders are working with VSU to offer a fall 2010 program featuring two daylong events for kids between the ages of 9 and 12 living within a four-hour drive of the VSU campus. KTU, which was developed at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech in partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program, is designed to introduce kids to STEM topics, as well as life on a university campus, at an early age. The events feature lectures from internationally recognized scientific researchers and hands-on activities developed by various VSU professors, students, and community organizations to encourage further exploration of the lecture topics. The fun and excitement of KTU continues after the children leave campus through an online lab component featuring activities designed to cultivate continued interest and a forum area to promote discussion and teamwork. 

“We are proud to be the first institution outside of Virginia Tech to premiere this highly-acclaimed scientific program for youth, Kids’ Tech University (KTU),” said VSU Extension Specialist Albert Reid, who is working with Kristy Collins, a senior research associate in education and outreach at VBI, to coordinate the activities at VSU.  “This opportunity allows us to provide dynamic lectures by leading research scientists and engaging hands-on activities to the children in our community.” 

Boris Kovatchev, associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences and systems and information engineering at the University of Virginia, will deliver the first lecture for the fall 2010 KTU program at VSU on Oct. 30, 2010, answering the question, “Why do doctors need math to treat diabetes?” Kovatchev will discuss the ways doctors use math to determine precisely how much insulin diabetic patients need at specific times, as well as how math is helping researchers develop of an artificial pancreas that will deliver the correct dosage of insulin to patients safely and automatically.  The second KTU event at VSU for the fall 2010 semester will be held on Dec. 4, 2010, and will feature a lecture by David Harwood, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and research director of the ANtarctic geological DRILLing (ANDRILL) program, which will answer the question, “What climate secrets are buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet?” 

“Following two successful semesters of KTU on the Virginia Tech campus, we are excited to have the opportunity to share our enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with children from other areas of the Commonwealth,” said Reinhard Laubenbacher, professor and deputy director of education and outreach at VBI, who spearheaded the development of KTU based on a similar program in Germany. This has been our goal from the beginning – to introduce the compelling world of scientific research to as many kids as possible.”

Online registration for the VSU program, which is free and open to the public but limited to 100 participants, will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2010. 

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Susan Bland
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Published by Susan Bland, September 29, 2010