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Solving the VEXing Challenge Of STEM

Partnerships make it happen for winning team to attend State Robotics Championships.

After months of practice and winning the local competition, the Bailey's Computer Clubhouse team was elated to learn last week it qualified to enter the State VEX Robotics tournament in Doswell, Va., Feb. 22. That enthusiasm, however, was quickly tempered as the team sponsors realized, although the kids were ready, willing and able to go, they simply didn't have the entry fee or money for transportation to make it happen.

The good news is that, led by Fairfax County Office of Partnerships (OP3), the community stepped in to make their dream a reality. OP3 facilitated a coalition of interested businesses, nonprofits and Fairfax County agencies, resulting in buses contributed by the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services; a donation of $1500 to cover registration fees, meals and logistics courtesy of GAP Solutions, Inc.; and shirts generously printed courtesy of Reston Shirt and Graphics.

With all of this support the teams embarked for the state competition along with their coaches, Northern Virginia Community College Students.

The teams are part of the Northern Virginia Community College's (NVCC) SySTEMic Solutions initiative. Created in response to the region's critical shortage of scientists, engineers and technicians, the program's ultimate goal is to meet the demand for a trained workforce in advanced technologies. Students in SySTEMic Solutions are likely to be the first in their family who have considered college, and come from a moderate or lower income family. With multi-institutional collaboration at the secondary and post-secondary level coupled with collaboration among K-12 school divisions and industry, this key best practice is set to increase college success and completion rates amongst at-risk student populations.

Through SySTEMic Solutions, NVCC has created a collaborative arrangement among K-12 school divisions, higher education institutions, local government and employers to create a sustainable workforce pipeline that by the year 2015 will have more than 3,000 students preparing for STEM careers.

Now that's a winning solution to a VEXing problem.

NOTE: Coaches and mentors are always needed and welcome. For more information contact: Wendy Lemieux, Fairfax County Office of Public Private Partnerships, 703-424-1805,

wendy.lemieux@fairfaxcounty.gov