Kids' Tech University, a program developed at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech in partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program to spark children's interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, will return to the Virginia Tech campus for a second semester in January 2010.

A groundbreaking program for kids between the ages of 9 and 12 living within a four-hour drive of Virginia Tech, Kids' Tech University is designed to introduce kids to STEM topics, as well as life on a university campus, at an early age.

Held four Saturdays over the course of a semester, the events feature lectures from internationally recognized scientific researchers and hands-on activities developed by various Virginia Tech student clubs, Virginia 4-H extension agents, Virginia Tech professors, and community organizations to encourage further exploration of the lecture topics. The fun and excitement of the program 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.

KTU held its inaugural semester in the spring of 2009 and will begin enrollment for the spring 2010 semester on Dec. 15, 2009.

The following is the schedule for the spring 2010 KTU semester:

  • On Jan. 30, 2010, Arthur Benjamin, professor of mathematics for Harvey Mudd College will present "Why is mathematics like magic?"
  • On Feb. 27, 2010, Marya Lieberman, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and a member of the NDnano Center at the University of Notre Dame will present "What is the smallest thing a person can see?"
  • On March 20, 2010, Louis Guillette, professor of zoology and director of the Howard Hughes Group Advantaged Training of Research (G.A.T.O.R.) Program at the University of Florida will present "Why do we need alligators in swamps?"
  • On April 10, 2010, Rafael Davalos, assistant professor for the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences will present "Why can't humans walk on water and climb walls with their fingertips like spiders?"

Kids' Tech University participants will have the opportunity to see Benjamin, who has appeared on "The Today Show," CNN, and National Public Radio, demonstrate his mixture of mathematics and magic, which he calls "Mathemagics," and explain how to mentally solve complex math problems faster than a calculator. Returning Kids' Tech University lecturer Guillette will explain why alligators are important to the swamps and what they can tell us about the world.

"Following a very successful first semester of KTU, we are pleased to offer a brand new semester of engaging activities, including lectures from world-class scientists who are devoted to sharing their enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with children," says Reinhard Laubenbacher, professor and deputy director of education and outreach at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, who spearheaded the development of Kids' Tech University based on a similar program in Germany. "Our goal is to show kids how exciting, dynamic, and compelling the world of scientific research can be."

Find more information and register for the spring 2010 semester of Kids' Tech University online.

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