Seeking Volunteers for ENTIRELY ONLINE Harrisonburg FIRST LEGO League Tournament

Seeking Volunteers for ENTIRELY ONLINE Harrisonburg FIRST LEGO League Tournament!

Saturday, February 6 | 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

FIRST Lego league logo horizontal  


The Harrisonburg FIRST LEGO League Regional tournament is in need of volunteers to referee and judge for the upcoming competition on Saturday, February 6th. This year the competition will be entirely online; teams will be sending in videos and meeting virtually with judges to compete to go to the Championship event. In order to help this event run smoothly, we need a number of people to help volunteer to ref and judge the day of the event, ~8:30am-3:30pm. If you are interested in volunteering for this event, please follow the following instructions by Friday, January 15th. If you have any questions about volunteering, please email Emily Winter at

Sign up to Volunteer for the virtual Harrisonburg FLL Tournament

  1. Go to
  2. Click “Sign Up to Volunteer at a Tournament”
  3. Select VA in the Region/Country dropdown
  4. Locate VA/DC FLL RePLAY Regional Qualifier 5 (Harrisonburg) and click “Volunteer”
  5. Fill out form and click “Submit”
  6. Complete Online Consent Form
    1. Go to
    2. Fill out registration form or login
    3. Go to Dashboard
    4. Go to Volunteer Registration
    5. Click on Event Volunteering
    6. Search for Harrisonburg Regional Qualifier
    7. Fill out form
    8. Begin Youth Protection Screening

SVTC Offering Start-Up Grants for FIRST LEGO League Teams

Looking for a grant to help start up your FLL team? Each year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council sponsors up to 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, start on our FLL page and fill out, and send, the PDF linked on that page. Information and application for FLL Startup Grant

About FIRST LEGO League (FLL),
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.

This year’s challenge, called Replay:

About the local / Virginia league: Your state and local -Virginia and Shen. Valley- connection to FLL is VA-DC FLL (, located in Harrisonburg. Virginia is one of the largest leagues in the world with over 600 teams. Start a conversation with Kaitlin and crew and see how you can get involved, right here in the Shen. Valley. (

Science and technology leaders are made, not born.

Shenandoah Valley Business Resources

We all know that Shenandoah Valley businesses and potential startups have been affecting during this time. Below, you can find information about two programs that provide access to resources for both startup companies and growing businesses.

Small Business Resiliency Team (SBRT) Program:

The SBRT is funded by a GO Virginia grant with the goal of providing expanded business support services and technical assistance to area businesses in the wake of COVID-19 challenges. The program will deploy Business Resiliency Navigators to guide growth-oriented businesses through a dedicated and well-designed process for achieving incremental and sustainable growth throughout the pandemic recovery period.

How does the SBRT program work?

  • You will receive personalized service from your SBRT Navigator* as they develop an Action Plan specifically designed to help you reach your goals.
  • Your Navigator will identify and invite Experts in appropriate fields to add information and help you implement the steps from your Plan.
  • They will also provide tools and other resources to assist you and introduce local service providers for specialized tasks.
  • The SBRT program costs you nothing until you may decide to engage one of the local providers to continue working for you to implement needed tasks.

More information at

Startup Shenandoah Valley:

Startup Shenandoah Valley is a hybrid program that combines the strengths of accelerator and incubator models. The program delivers online coaching to identify and address the riskiest parts of each entrepreneur’s business model. Participants will join a cohort with access to the best resource providers, mentors, and investors in and beyond the region. This powerful network and flexible online guidance are what make S2V unique. S2V is offered to participants at no charge and without equity requirements.

More information at 

Shenandoah Valley Business Scale-Up Program:

In partnership with the National Center For Economic Gardening (NCEG) and the GO Virginia Region 8 local jurisdictions,* the Shenandoah Valley Business Scale-Up program provides qualifying second-stage companies with custom resources to identify and resolve distinct growth challenges that traditional business assistance and incentives do not address.

Companies accepted into the program begin an engagement period of approximately 6-8 weeks for quick turnaround time and highly-focused structure.  The typical length of engagement with the National Center is approximately 12-16 weeks.  A portion of costs are covered by a GO Virginia Region 8 matching grant and the company’s respective local governing body.

Eligible companies will receive customized services from a team of research specialists, including, but not limited to:

  • Strategic growth plans to develop new markets, refine business models, and utilize competitive intelligence
  • Increased visibility through improved digital presence, search engine optimization, and social media marketing
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data analysis and mapping

More information at

SVTC announces 25 nominees and will offer interactive networking at annual premier event for tech users and creators on Oct. 7

Like so many conferences and events intended to be held this year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council (SVTC) has moved its premier annual event, TechNite20, to a virtual format due to COVID-19.

“Like many organizations these days, we are pivoting,” says Nicky Swayne, chief executive officer of the SVTC. “We received a nice line-up of nominees in all award categories in the spring and don’t want to neglect what these innovators, educators, leaders, and developers have done. Tech Nite is on! We intend to honor and highlight them, as always, albeit virtually, at an online event with live networking. Networking with a twist: you decide what table you want to join and who you want to talk to. It’ll be the best networking since March.”

This year, TechNite20 will take place in a virtual and highly interactive platform called Remo and include both live and recorded segments. At the beginning of TechNite20, guests will network in real-time while using their cameras and mics, while moving around at virtual tables at will,  which allows the networking to feel fluid, natural, and fun.   

“After all, we had received 25 nominees, whose achievement we did not want to let go unrecognized,” says Nicky. “Innovation and leadership happened in our Valley, and we will show it off.”

As always, the tech council will give awards in eight categories and presenters will highlight 25 nominees. One of the most fun activities of Tech Nite is the social voting that everyone is able to participate in, before and during the event, for the category called Serco People’s Choice Award. This means that anyone can post public or private votes to support their favorite. We will again use a special hashtag, #SVTCPC20, and any nominee’s supporters can post their public votes via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. The tech council will collect these and announce the winner at the end of the event. This is another chance for all nominees to win in a second category. A quick primer -and the social wall itself- are located at 

The nominees are: 

Rockingham Circuit Court Clerk’s Innovation in Community Impact Award

  • Generate Impact
  • Horizons Edge Sports Campus
  • Valley Makers Association

GreeneHurlocker’s Innovation in Emerging Business Award

  • Sproutly, LLC
  • Traipse, Inc.

Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s Innovation in Education K-12 Award

  • Andrei Dacko, Valley Career and Technical Center
  • Diana Flick, Harrisonburg City Public Schools
  • Lisa Gibson, Shenandoah County Public Schools
  • Ryan Hall, Valley Makers Association
  • Jennifer LaBombard-Daniels, Shenandoah University
  • Massanutten Technical Center E-SOC

Segra’s Innovation In Higher Education Award

  • AR/VR Healthcare Simulation Course
  • BizLab
  • GO Virginia Cybersecurity Program
  • Autonomous Cart (JACart) Research Group
  • Shenandoah University

Center for Innovative Technology’s Innovation in Development Award

  • Bryan Tool & Machining
  • QuickFix
  • Shentel

Dynamic Aviation’s Innovation in Utilization Award

  • E-N Computers, Inc.
  • Interchange Group, Inc.

Shentel’s Dr. John Noftsinger Leadership Award

  • Phyllis Friesen, Design Concrete Builders Inc.
  • Tom Lundquist, Staunton City Schools
  • Anne Marchant, Shenandoah University

TechNite20 will be held on October 7, 2020. Details on how to vote for the Serco PCA and reservations are available at  

About Tech Nite
Tech Nite is the premier tech-centric event in the Valley that celebrates the successes of technology firms, organizations and programs in the region — and the entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and educators behind those successes. Tech users and creators gather to honor and recognize the area’s technology innovators. This recognition helps organizations and individuals immensely – the winning organization is able to expand its network, attract employees, and obtain publicity inside and often outside of the local region. 

About the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council
The Shenandoah Valley Technology Council (SVTC) is a non-profit membership organization serving the greater Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Its members are technology creators and users who gather together for education, networking and business development. By helping technology businesses in the area succeed and grow, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council is an integral component of the region, helping to bring high-paying technology jobs to the Valley.


Nicky Swayne 

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.