Residing in the National Capital Region, the Thinkabit Lab at Virginia Tech provides hands-on experiences for Northern Virginia and DC area schools.

The Thinkabit Lab experience at Virginia Tech offers both teachers and students an engaging environment—part lab, makerspace and innovative learning spaces—to foster creativity, collaboration and the critical skills necessary for the future technical workforce. A typical visit by school groups (mostly 4th grade through 12th grade) begins in an uncommon, colorful and comfortable space with an interactive exploration of a wide variety of STEM careers and supporting careers, and how to communicate these with parents, teachers, and school guidance counselors. Participants then move next door to an equally uncommon technical learning lab in which they build and program with electronic microcontrollers, working in two-person teams in an engineering design process to build and present unique robotic crafts they designed. Presentations are followed by short reflective writing. Teaching strategies facilitate differentiated learning aimed at 100% engagement.

After-school clubs and other groups participate in a variety of flexible and adaptive programs ranging from creative robotics (solving individual real-world problems) to using sensors and actuators in environmental monitoring or remote operations. Summer camps provide in-depth experiences in similar topics. All activities support enhanced understanding and appreciation of IOT (Internet of Things) connectivity, while emphasizing intellectual property, protection of privacy, and the inspiration to be part of future innovations and solutions. Activities are extended through teacher training and school equipment loan programs to provide ongoing and expanded opportunities at local schools. Multiple school divisions have begun developing Inspired by Thinkabit Lab spaces at their sites with Thinkabit Lab resources, guidance documents, and activities.

We know that STEM skills can enhance every student’s future, regardless of their field of study, and we need to prepare both students and teachers to address the complex challenges of tomorrow. The Thinkabit collaboration with Qualcomm will allow us to join complementary strengths and work synergistically to create opportunities and lower barriers.

Virginia Tech, President Tim Sands

Virginia Tech is known for the excellence of its programs in engineering education, research and public service.

Virginia Tech, founded in 1872 as a land-grant institution, is currently ranked as a Top 25 Public University by U.S. News & World Report and a Top 25 Public Research University by the National Science Foundation. Through a combination of its three missions of learning, discovery and engagement, Virginia Tech continually strives to accomplish the charge of its motto: Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). As the Commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech serves a diverse population of 30,000+ students and 8,000+ faculty and staff from over 100 countries, and is engaged in research around the world.