Most Youth Summer Camps Moving Online This Summer

In an effort to keep our region safe and healthy several youth programs, camps, and classes throughout the Valley have been canceled this summer.  However, a few organizations have found creative ways to hold them virtually. Often they are a great alternative to the original and designed to keep children engaged and entertained by providing educational content.

We’ve provided a list of STEM-based camps within the Valley. Please SHARE additional online STEM youth camps or programs with us:

James Madison University’s Youth Programs and Camps

JMU Professional & Continuing Education is providing opportunities for online camps and learning for kids, many of which are STEM-based! Please take a look at the following camps and programs starting in June 2020.

  • Renewable Energy Camp | June 22 – 25, 2020 | Grades: Rising 4th – 12th
    During Renewable Energy Camp, kids will get a chance to harness the power of the wind and build a wind turbine as well as catch the sun and use it to power a village or even cook smores!  Over the week, we will learn about energy, renewable energy, energy conservation, wind energy, and solar energy.  At the end of the week, kids will have a chance to show off what they learned in a mini-science fair. Program Fee: $100.00. Renewable Energy Camp registration and more information
  • Science Explorers Camp
    Using JMU’s unique facilities such as the John C. Wells Planetarium, Science on a Sphere, among others, camp-goers will get to explore different areas of science, including biology, earth science, chemistry, forensic science, physics and astronomy and more! We seek to inspire and excite the next generation. Science Explorers Camp will touch on topics covered in the former Space Explorers Camp, while introducing new concepts, activities, and STEM challenges.
    Full Day Camp (rising 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th grades):
    July 6-10, 2020  Program Fee: $80.00
    Full Day Camp (rising 5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th grades): July 13-17, 2020 Program Fee: $80.00
    Science Explorers Camp registration and more information
  • College for Kids | July 27-31, 2020 | Grades: Rising K-8th
    College for Kids provides an enriching, educational, and fun experience for children in grades K-8. Students work with JMU faculty and graduate students, as well as experts from the community, to explore and discover talents they never knew they had! Classes include STEM topics such as A Dino-Mite STEM AdventureUncovering the Mysteries of Science, and MORE!
    Registration Fees:
    1 Session (Am or PM) for the week $80.00,
    2 Sessions (AM & PM) for the week $160.00
    College for Kids registration, class details, and more information

To check out all Youth Programs, please visit

Blue Ridge Community College’s Learning Can Be Fun (LCBF) Program

Blue Ridge Community College’s popular Learning Can Be Fun (LCBF) summer youth program offers 85 classes, providing rising 3-12 grade students plenty of opportunities for virtual learning.  Due to COVID-19 concerns, all classes meet online, with real-time learning taking place live with an instructor and other students for a virtual bonding experience over a one-week period.  Each class is grouped by appropriate age levels, with class size kept to a minimum to allow for individual attention.

Classes include the following subjects:

  • Black Rocket Productions- 60 classes
    • Design
    • Coding
    • Video Game Creation
    • Sports Challenges
    • Minecraft
    • JavaScript & Python
    • YouTube Content Creators
  • Science and Technology – 2 classes
  • Culture, History, Language, and Literature – 10 classes
  • Art, Music, and Theatre – 7 classes

LCBF registration, class details, and additional information

Explore More Discovery Museum Summer Camps (Harrisonburg)

While most summer camps are moving online the Explore More Discovery Museum has decided to hold their summer camps in-person while taking health and safety precautions. They will hold in-person camps beginning June 29. During the first month of camp season, the museum will be closed to the public while camps are in session. The Discovery Museum will continue to evaluate and extend this closure as needed.

Junior Summer Camps: Ages 3 1/2 – 5
Full listing of camps and Junior Camp registration

Master Explorers: Ages 6 – 13
Full listing of camps and Master Explorers Camp registration

Half Day Camps

(Members: $105.00)

Full Day Camps
(Members: $210.00)

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum Summer Camps (Winchester)

The SV Discovery Museum is also planning on holding in-person camps. Beginning June 29, the organization is planning to run physical, in-house camps. These camps will feature reduced camp sizes and are designed to follow current health and safety guidelines (e.g. masks, hand washing, social distancing, temperature checks, etc.). There are various camps, ranging from activities from Pre-K through Grade 8. Camps will run through the summer and end in August.

Discovery Museum members: $125 half-day
Non-members: $145 half-day
Discount for attending 3+ camps!

Camp registration, camp details, and additional information

STEM Winter Youth Programs

As you plan your kid’s fall/winter activities, check out JMU’s STEM winter youth programs:

College for Kids
College for Kids is an enrichment program for children in grades rising K-8. Children will work with James Madison University faculty and graduate students, as well as experts from the community and surrounding area, to try new things, explore and discover talents they never knew they had! This program will be held on 6 Saturdays, January 11th – February 15th, 2020

Technology-related sessions will also be offered. A few are:

  • Coding: Scratch Programming (Grades 4 – 6): This class lets students design their own interactive stories, games and animations while learning basic coding concepts. They will learn how to make characters move around the screen, interact with other characters and respond to sound effects.
  • Lego Engineering (Grades 1 – 5): This class is for young Lego enthusiasts who are ready to delve into the world of engineering and computer coding. Participants will work in teams to build and program their Lego creations using the We-Do Lego curriculum. Each day, students will be presented with a different challenge designed to spark their creativity and put their technical problem solving skills to work.
  • 3D Art (Grades 3 – 5): In this 3D art class, students will explore using both contemporary and classic mediums, while creating sculpture and collage pieces, out of a variety of materials, from foil, to joint compound and clay. Several modern artists will be featured. The final class will feature an “art show” of each students work on display!

For more information, please contact Melissa Heatwole at or (540) 568-4226.

More information and additional course options:

Register for College for Kids from Jan. 11 – Feb. 15, 2020

You Be the Chemist
JMU’s Professional and Continuing Education is teaming up with the Chemical Educational Foundation ® (CEF) to run the You Be The Chemist Challenge® in the Shenandoah Valley! You Be The Chemist Challenge is an interactive academic contest that uses the drama of competition to excite grade 5–8 students about science. The Challenge tests students’ knowledge of chemistry concepts, their real-world applications, and other topics that are included in standard science curriculum, such as:

  • the scientific method
  • properties of matter
  • chemical formulas & equations
  • chemistry in the human body

Participating schools and students have an opportunity to receive national recognition, prizes, and scholarships. The winner and one educator from each state even receive an expenses-paid trip to the national competition in Philadelphia in June! There is no cost to participate, and participation requires a minimal time commitment from schools. Study materials are provided free online to help students prepare for the competition. The local challenge for the Shenandoah Valley will be held on February 29, 2020 at James Madison University.

If you are interested in registering your school to participate in the Shenandoah Valley Challenge, please visit All participating schools must register by December 6, 2019.

The Challenge was created by the Chemical Educational Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing science education for our youth. The competition involved 30 states and almost 25,000 students during the last school year and it continues to grow—we hope to get your school involved!

For more information about participating in future events, please contact Melissa Heatwole at or 540-568-4226 or visit

2019 Start-Up Grants Now Available for FLL Teams

Looking for a grant to help start up your FLL team? Each year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council sponsors three new FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams from the Shenandoah Valley. Approximately half of the start-up cost of a new team is reimbursed, up to $350.

To be eligible, teams must be located in the footprint of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s area of operation. Applicants must also intend participate in the FLL competition within one year of receiving the grant. This grant can be used towards any equipment required for competition in FIRST LEGO League, including one or more LEGO robotics kits, a competition practice table, and an FLL field setup kit.

If you are interested in applying for the FLL Start-Up Grant, please complete the following form, and follow the steps as indicated on the form: FLL Reimbursement Grant Application (pdf)

About FLL
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) was created through a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the LEGO company and inspires future scientists and engineers. it is an international competition that challenges young participants to think like scientists and engineers. Every year FLL introduces kids to a real-world scientific topic, and teams are challenged to find a solution. They also build a robot and compete in a friendly, FIRST-style robotics event specially designed for their age group.

For more information about receiving an FLL Start-Up Grant visit our FLL information page. To learn more about FIRST LEGO League visit the VA/DC FIRST LEGO League website.

The SVTC Announces New Directors to the Board Beginning July 1, 2019

We’re delighted to announce that we have newly appointed directors to our board as an outcome of our last election! The SVTC Board of Directors is divided into two groups, called classes, for governance purposes. Each year, the term of one of the classes expires. To prepare, the SVTC holds an election in the spring of each year so that a new class of directors is elected and can be appointed by the board of directors before the end of the term on June 30th.

The following members were appointed by the board on June 13 based on this past spring’s Class I election:

  • Chris Ashley (*) | Collegiate Customs | Harrisonburg
  • Joanna Bergdoll (*) | Immerge | Harrisonburgh
  • Jay Guruswamy (*) | Cadence, Inc. | Staunton
  • Doug Pascarella (*) | Dynamic Aviation | Bridgewater
  • Kurt Paterson (*) | JMU College of Integrated Science and Engineering | Harrisonburg
  • Ed Pease | Blue Ridge Community College | Weyers Cave
  • Ron Perry | grep Innovation LLC | Augusta County
  • Sandra Quigg
  • Greg St. Ours | Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver | Harrisonburg
  • Nick Swayne | JMU X-Labs; 4-Virginia | Harrisonburg
  • Keith Waters (*) | Chiedo Labs | Harrisonburg

* Director is new to the board

To view all board members see: SVTC Board of Directors by Class and Committee (pdf).

Again, we are so happy to have some new faces on the SVTC board. Welcome, and thank you for your service to the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council!

2019 Valley Summer Tech Activities

We’ve gathered a listing of local tech activities for kids for the summer of 2019! Ranging from workshops to camps, this summer is full of technology and STEM fun. Browse the links below and/or share the list with others! See details below.

Summer Camps by Outreach & Engagement
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Summer Explorer Camps
Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg, VA

Learning Can Be Fun Program
Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave, VA

Summer Camps
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, Winchester, VA

If there are additional kids’ tech activities not on this list, we’d be more than happy to publicize them in our newsletter as long as they are within the Shenandoah Valley and relate to technology. Email the information to

SVTC Members Staunton Innovation Hub and JMU X-Labs Receive Good News: GO Virginia Grant Awarded for Tech-Lab Feasibility Study

Staunton Innovation Hub LogoJMU X Labs Logo






December 24, 2018 (Staunton, VA)

The Staunton Innovation Hub (SIH) has been awarded a $23,000 grant from the GO Virginia Region 8 Council to complete a feasibility study. This intensive study will determine if area students and entrepreneurs will benefit from access to a “Tech-Lab” with its specialized capabilities by starting new companies or gaining skills for higher paying jobs.  The feasibility study will be used as a vehicle to determine what is important for the next generation to learn, and what gaps in access to technology exist that are not currently being filled. The study will also help them determine the need, benefit, and cost of the equipment and programs of the Tech-Lab. The results from this study will help identify the funding and the support needed to build the brick-and-mortar Tech-Lab in the SIH, determine the funding needed for a mobile Tech-Bus, and identify the associated educational programming that brings it all together.

The SIH team is initially working with Mary Baldwin University, James Madison University, Valley Career and Technical Center, the City of Staunton and Page County on this venture. The Tech-Lab is a student-entrepreneur-technology initiative with a focus on student education, instructor training, and workforce development. The goal is to lower barriers to success and prepare students to become innovators, be it via an entrepreneurial path or within current employers.  SIH believes in the power of bringing people together in a shared workspace and teaching creative and collaborative ways to use technology such as laser cutters, 3D printers, robotics, and electronics, to develop new products and acquire new skills.

Due to the large and rural geographic footprint and of Region 8, keeping people connected and gaining access to modern technology is often difficult.  The Staunton Innovation Hub believes that an effective way to address this challenge is to build and deploy a mobile Tech-Lab, initially termed the Tech Bus.

The preliminary vision for the Tech Bus is to convert a full-size, decommissioned school bus into a rolling STEM lab.  Imagine an exciting exterior design, a sleek interior with lab tables instead of seats, all filled with 3D printers, augmented reality/virtual reality stations, robotics and more!  This bus will have an accompanying lesson plan for teaching these technologies to both end users and other instructors.  Such an idea is revolutionary to the region. The bus will physically and virtually close the gap between stakeholders. More importantly, this will be a cooperative resource of otherwise unattainable equipment and training for teachers and students in rural areas.

Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull stated, “I am delighted that the Staunton Innovation Hub has received the GO Virginia grant for a feasibility study. These funds will support a 21st-century educational lab featuring laser cutters, 3D printers, robotics, and electronics, which will encourage creativity and innovation and fuel our city’s entrepreneur ecosystem.”

Page County is committed to helping SIH figure out what our “young” entrepreneurs are capable of once giving the right resources. We are excited to explore entrepreneur readiness and the positive impact this “out of the box” initiative will have on local workforce development and small business education. We know it will create a more confident small business conversation in Page County.” says Liz Lewis, Economic Development for Page County.

“At the core mission is reducing barriers to innovation.  This study will map the best collaborative path to accomplish this mission for the younger residents of the Shenandoah Valley by complementing the hard work our area schools already put forth.  This entire project is all about bringing cutting-edge resources to those who might otherwise be unable to access such technology.  It will complement the ongoing workforce development efforts and make otherwise out-of-reach opportunities, technologies, and mindsets available to anyone with curiosity and a desire to learn!”  says Peter Denbigh, Catalyst at the Staunton Innovation Hub.

The impact of this study will forge a foundational paradigm shift in the entrepreneurial and innovation landscape in the region.  Knowledge gained will impact multiple socioeconomic groups, population segments, business industries, and business sizes.  We will change the future of this region and be a fantastic case study for rural areas not just in Virginia, but across the country.

The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) is a voluntary, business-led, bipartisan initiative that was formed to foster private-sector growth and diversification across nine economic development regions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. State financial incentives designated for regional projects that encourage collaboration between private sector companies, workforce, education, and government are administered by the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board. GO Virginia Region 8 covers a large area from Winchester to Lexington and includes ten counties and six cities in the Shenandoah Valley, with a combined population of 525,000. The 28-member council that oversees the GO Virginia program is made up of representatives from small and large business, higher and K-12 education, elected officials, and economic and workforce development organizations.

For more information on GO Virginia, visit online at Shenandoah Valley Partnership or Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

What have we been doing this fall? Focusing on technology, tech-based business creation, and helping to create the future Valley workforce!

Tech Workforce: TECHSTERS 2018

Head volunteer Dr. Brett Tjaden assists a team during TECHSTERS


The Shenandoah Valley Technology Council has worked hard this fall to help GROW the Valley’s future tech workforce, help CREATE new tech-based businesses, and connect grant seekers/ researchers with those that have the resources. We’re strengthening the tech “fabric” of the Shenandoah Valley. We’ve had a blast facilitating and engaging with these endeavors.

Sometimes we’re asked, “What do you do” – so here’s a recap of the fall 2018 activities. Many of them are annual events and you may want to participate next year, as an attendee or sponsor. (For example, a sponsorship enabled us to award 4 iPads to the winning team at Techsters, pictured above.)

We’d also like to like to thank our members for supporting us. With your support, via your membership, we’re able to continue hosting events like the ones below (plus fun outings to places like the crash test track in Ruckersville). Thank you!

OCT 19, 2018 – NOV 2, 2018
Virginia ICAP Lean Start-Up Course | Shen Valley Cohort
Together with local partners, the SVTC hosted the 2nd course of ICAP. ICAP helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing their new technologies and innovations to market. This program included free introductory training and counseling. Through in-person classes at the Ice House in Harrisonburg and follow-up phone reviews, 6 local startups were able to identify potential customers and develop successful business models based on that knowledge. We are aiming to collaborate for a third installment in spring 2019. (Details)

OCT 23, 2018
Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) Information Session
A information session for the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) was held regarding funding for technology research or commercialization available through the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF), a program managed by CIT. During the session Jennifer Hiltwine, a CRCF staff member, explained the program, the application process, and answered questions from prospective applicants. (Details)

NOV 3, 2018
TECHSTERS | A Cybersecurity Competition for Girls
The call went out to middle school girls in the Shenandoah Valley and on Nov. 3, we (and other tech councils) hosted TECHSTERS. Ours was held at JMU and two more were hosted elsewhere in the state. Techsters was a capture-the-flag (CTF) event intended to introduce middle-school girls to the cybersecurity industry in a fun and interactive game style. Twenty-five girls from the Shen. Valley competed their hearts out (with mentors along side them to help) as they utilized their resources, attacked problems with their problem-solving skills, and used their team knowledge, together with education from mentors, to score points. In the end, our teams were in the top 10 (with 7 of the top 10 from the Shen. Valley)! (Details)


NOV 3, 2018
FIRST LEGO League Regional Competition
In early December, the VA-DC FLL league hosted their state competition in town and it was the BIGGEST one in the world (102 teams from across the state came)! FIRST LEGO League (FLL) challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the INTO ORBIT season teams built, tested, and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in the robot game tournament. Teams also created and presented a project by choosing and solving a real-world problem. The Shen. Valley Tech Council sponsored a Valley team and volunteered on both days of the competition.

Be part of it all and get involved with these and similar activities. How? Connect with and support the local tech ecosystem. Attend luncheons, learn about & discuss tech trends! Become a member and get an online profile. Grab some visibility at our premier event for tech users and creators, Tech Nite, in late spring and help highlight tech, innovators, educators, and leaders.

The SVTC Membership Directory: Connecting Companies

The Shenandoah Valley Technology Council is very pleased to announce a recent success as a result of the SVTC membership directory, a searchable online directory where we list our members. When Kristy Rhea from Bridgewater College was in need of a local web development company, she decided to browse the SVTC membership directory for a possible candidate. Through her browsing she was able to find Chiedo Labs, a team of innovators, web developers, and web designers. Here is her story:

“When I had the need for web development in a pinch, I looked to the SVTC membership page to try to find companies who listed skill sets I was looking for and I found Chiedo Labs.  I wanted to stay local and find a partnership I could rely on.  Once I had the conversation with Chiedo Labs on our needs and what they had to offer, it matched what we were looking for.”

Chiedo, CEO of Chiedo Labs, was equally delighted to be found:

“With this partnership alone, our membership has paid for itself for the next 50 years. And that doesn’t even take in to account all the other benefits for being a member. Joining SVTC is a no brainer for anyone who loves and supports our local tech scene.”

The SVTC is always connecting individuals and strengthening the local technology community through networking events and other modes of connection, such as our directory. We’re so happy when we hear stories like this, and we’d like to congratulate Chiedo Labs and Bridgewater College on their partnership!

The SVTC Announces New Directors to the Board

We’re delighted to announce that we have newly appointed directors to our board as an outcome of our last election! The SVTC Board of Directors is divided into two groups, called classes, for governance purposes. Each year, the term of one of the classes expires. To prepare, the SVTC holds an election in the spring of each year so that a new class of directors is elected and can be appointed by the board of directors before the end of the term on June 30th.

The following members were appointed by the board on June 14 based on this past spring’s Class II election:

  • John Paul Ashenfelter (*)  |  Transitionpoint  |  Harrisonburg
  • Kim Blosser  |  Lord Fairfax Community College  |  Middletown
  • Karen Bowman  |  Rockingham Insurance  |  Harrisonburg
  • Sarah Cheverton  |  JMU University Programs / Online Learning  |  Harrisonburg
  • Peter Denbigh (*)  |  Skyler Innovations  |  Staunton
  • Mike Goertzen  |  Serco, Inc.  |  Harrisonburg
  • Kirsten Moore (*)  |  The Hub Coworking  |  Harrisonburg
  • Kurt Plowman  |  City of Staunton  |  Staunton
  • Dick Shimp  |  ComSonics, Inc.  |  Harrisonburg
  • Bob Stolle  |  Center for Innovative Technology  |  Herndon
  • Ed Yoder (*)  |  PBMares  |  Harrisonburg

* Director is new to the board

To view all board members see: SVTC Board of Directors by Class and Committee (pdf).

Again, we are so happy to have some new faces on the SVTC board. Welcome, and thank you for your service to the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council!

Submit Your Ideas to Our Programming 2018-2019

Be an active member! Tell us what sort of programming, topics, or site visits would you like to participate in September 2018 through June 2019. What tech topics are on your mind? What makes a techie’s heart skip a beat? Is there an organization, program, team, or business location you’d like to hear from or visit?

We’ve developed a survey (see below) to help us find out which topics our local techies are interested in. Select which topics you’d like to hear about. If you’re interested in a topic not mentioned in our survey, we have an option for you to suggest additional topics. Please not that we are a not-for-profit, so we look for speakers from the Valley with minimal or no travel or other expenses.

To know what topics we covered in the past, take a look:
Summary of ALL the luncheons we’ve ever held (2005-2018) (pdf).

Love SVTC events and programming? How about joining the Events and Programming Committee? Send Nicky an email,, to join.

To give us your input, please complete the form below.