Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST) is a free, campus-based, summer residential program for rising ninth and tenth grade students who have an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), particularly those who may have lacked the confidence or opportunity to participate in experiential STEM learning programs in younger grade levels. BLAST is designed to spark curiosity and ignite a deeper passion for STEM disciplines by engaging students for three full days of hands-on STEM learning activities, guest lectures, and campus tours. Students gain confidence in academic skills while experiencing life on a college campus, and an important part of the program is the opportunity to learn about the application process and the vast opportunities that exist for STEM careers. Participants come away from BLAST with greater confidence and enhanced readiness for advanced programs in science, technology, engineering, and math.
The BLAST program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 2,500 students have participated in BLAST since its 2013 inception.
Chaperones play a crucial role in the BLAST program each summer by providing leadership and structure for BLAST participants as they navigate the college campus and engage in program activities. Each BLAST Chaperone will be assigned a group of approximately ten students and will accompany the group throughout the entire program, including mealtimes and evening downtime at the dorms. Chaperones set the tone and model expectations to ensure every BLAST student has a great time while staying safe and collaborating inclusively with their team.
BLAST Chaperones are also very important to ensure every Virginia student interested in STEM knows about the program and can apply. Chaperones are actively teaching in STEM and CTE courses throughout Virginia and can directly share their BLAST experiences and encourage qualified students to apply.
All meals will be provided during the BLAST session.
Chaperones will be housed at the institution’s dorms, near their student group.
– Attend the full BLAST chaperone orientation.
– Complete security checks required by the institution, which may include a background check or online tutorial.
– Support student-check in by circulating as students arrive and get settled in the dorms.
– Assist with ice-breaker activities.
– Orient students to dorm expectations, ground rules, and similar expectations. This information will be shared at the Chaperone orientation.
– Accompany students during all activities, including tours and demonstrations, and encourage active participation.
– Assist staff with photography as needed.
– Enforce expectations such as students wearing nametags and cell phone usage.
– In the event of any student injury or accident, notify the VSGC BLAST coordinator or institution Lead immediately.
– Inform the VSGC BLAST coordinator of concerns about behavior or other issues.
– Assist with student departure.
– Share materials provided by VSGC, such as flyers or social media posts, with your professional network to ensure all Virginia students interested in STEM can apply.
– Hold a valid Virginia teaching license with an endorsement in a STEM or CTE field.
– Currently be employed in a Virginia private or public middle or high school teaching STEM or CTE courses.
– Experience leading student groups outside of a classroom preferred.
– Chaperones are selected for one or more BLAST sessions. The dates and locations for the current program cycle can be found here: Important Dates
– Chaperones are paid a stipend of $1,000.00 for each fulfilled session of BLAST.
– Selection to chaperone BLAST is based on several factors including verification of school and licensure information, quality of responses in the application, and quality of recommendations. In addition, efforts will be made to ensure geographic and demographic diversity.