Full STEAM Ahead, Virginia!

Discussing STEAM subjects: Caroline Martin, Dr. Judy Stewart, Orlando Robinson, Dr. Michelle Claville, Romdon Roopchan, and Dr. Shannon Chance.

Discussing STEAM subjects: Caroline Martin, Dr. Judy Stewart, Orlando Robinson, Dr. Michelle Claville, Romdon Roopchan, and Dr. Shannon Chance.

Big things are happening in the world of STEM education in Virginia.  Two enterprising educators, Caroline Martin and Dr. Judy Stewart, have founded the Virginia STEAM Academy.  Their public, 4-year residential program in Science, Technology, Engineering and Applied Mathematics is set to open for its inaugural cohort of students in the fall of 2015.  Last summer, Judy and Caroline conducted a summer program to get the ball rolling.

They have been working on the Virginia STEAM project since November 2010, and I’m happy to say that I’ve had some level of involvement since February 2011.  Although I took a year away during my Fulbright fellowship, a Wednesday meeting  on Hampton University’s campus helped me catch back up.

I’m fascinated by two specific aspects of the planning Caroline and Judy are doing: (1) securing and preparing facilities on the former Ft. Monroe that will house 1000 high school students and 75 teachers (who will live on-site with the students) and (2) designing the curriculum to support quality learning and innovative teaching.  They are such innovative thinkers and they know how to get things done!

Their vision for the school is remarkably aligned with the research I’ve been doing on integrating design thinking into engineering curricula and on tracking learning outcomes that accrue as a result of hands-on, problem- and project-based learning.

This Academy is going to open a while new world of possibilities for Virginia and her citizens.  My sister, Heather , was lucky enough to attend the Governor’s School for Science and Technology in Roanoke when she was in high school.  However, the daily commute — an hour each way — was a real strain on her and the other three students from our county who attended with her.  This new residential school will take the burden of daily commuting away, allowing the students and teachers focus on learning and generating new knowledge.

I am thrilled  the school will be here in Hampton Roads, and just a stone’s throw from Hampton University’s campus.

This Academy offers an ideal setting for the study of history as well as STEAM subjects.

Dave Chance Downtown

A photo taken during the property inspection. I can't wait to see more!

A photo taken during the property inspection. I can’t wait to see more!

We closed the deal on the purchase of a new studio for Dave today!

Dave just announced “Coming soon: Dave Chance Downtown” on Facebook, thereby (finally) granting me permission to blab about how proud I am of him.

He’s been hoping for this building for a year, and kindly delayed until I could adapt to the idea of owning another building in Portsmouth. He wanted gallery walls for display and a new sense of separation between home and work. I’m not sure that workaholics like us can really separate from our work to go home — but, hey, if he wants to try it out, more power to him.

For a glimpse of his work, visit www.davechancephotography.com.

Sites and Sounds of Galway

The Dew Drop Inn… ah, the memories!  It’s the namesake of this pub in Galway (the brightly colored building to the left).  My grandfather (Layton McCarthy Massie) worked with the real Pa Walton once once a time, in Virginia. If you watched the show, you’ll recall Pa had to travel to find work a few times.  It was one of those times.  The family (upon which the TV series was based) lived in Skylar, Virginia, whereas my grandpa lived closer to the West Virginia line.

I had a ball in Galway this weekend, visiting Amanda Bernhard and her husband Jonathan Kennedy.  Here’s a glimpse of some of the things we did.

We attended the Fulbright Association’s Thanksgiving Banquet on Friday and the Irish Music Club’s singing event on Saturday.


Thanksgivings Long, Long Ago

Here’s to memories of giving Thanks long, long ago.

In the photo below my dad, my younger/only sister Heather, and I were admiring the glory of a wise, old, wild turkey.  Heather couldn’t bear to eat fellows like him, and became vegetarian by the age of 15.  See the genuine respect she has for him?  Remarkable, really!

She posted this photo on Facebook last night — to celebrate Thanksgiving — and I thought I’d pass it along so you can see a fall day in Virginia in the late 70s with two young kids in awe of the natural world.

Shannon and Don and Heather Massie admiring a fine wild turkey.


The James River bridge nearly underwater. Image posted on Facebook yesterday by Operation Homefront of the Virginias.

There’s a huge hurricane barreling toward the east coast of Virginia today. Everything there is closed and Dave is hunkered down at home with the kitties.  So that means he’s fixated on the computer screen for the day. Fortunately for my little workaholic, his power supply hasn’t gone out.

We live in the coastal area of Virginia, but our home is six blocks from the water. Since we’re on the mouth of the Elizabeth River rather than the ocean front, we’re not susceptible surges (historically speaking, that is). Our home isn’t in the “100 year flood plain,” although the ones on the next block are.

When Dave did leave home last night to grab sushi for dinner before the big part of the storm hit (that’s how people without kids prepare for a storm, by the way), he came home to find our cat Sienna asleep on his keyboard. He’d been keeping it nice and warm for her!

It’s very, very quite here in Dublin, too, and it feels a lot like hurricane days at home.

Here, it’s a “bank holiday.” Many places are closed. I haven’t left the house. In fact, I only stepped out twice in three days, and just for short jaunts (yoga and brunch).

The weather in Dublin is glum and drizzly. Which is actually okay, as I’ve spent the weekend working up lecture outlines, a Prezi file, a recommendation letter, and transcribing and making some progress on proposals for possible talks and exhibits.

If some of those come through, I’ll get to travel to “the Continent” to speak.  That will be fun!  I’m posting a memory from Rome to rekindle memories of a sunny day in Rome. I’ve been keeping up with the people who commented on the sketch via Facebook throughout the storm. Thankfully even the one who lives on the ocean front (Chris Bonney) is okay at this point. He’s still posting view of the storm….

A photo posted to Facebook by David Waterfield. Taken near Buxton, North Carolina yesterday.

Emergency Catnap!!!
Siena asleep on Dave’s computer yesterday.

A sketch I made in the courtyard of Rome’s Spada Gallery, home to the famous Borromini perspective.