Based on Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot about a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities and  “make her mark,” DOT DAY is a celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration! Click here for a 4 minute narrated version of The Dot.

Mr. Malone, Mr. Lear and Mr. Ajima joined forces to design a conic sections demonstrator from 2 large plywood dots.

Students rose to the challenge to be creative and design their own dots.



The Periodic Table Upended

The periodic table of elements has served the field of chemistry well for 150 years, but there are other options out there. Some scientists are now pushing its limits.

Devised in 1869 by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, the periodic chart is a 2-dimensional array of chemical elements ordered by atomic number and arranged 18 across by orbitals. It is considered one of the most important achievements in modern science. The schema of patterns and trends enables scientists to predict elemental properties, reactivities, and even new elements. The position of an element in the table can reveal a lot of things about it, such as whether it’s metal or not or if it’s abundant on earth or not. This original form has remained largely unchanged for the past 150 years, except for the addition of new elements that have been discovered, although generations of chemists have made attempts to improve it or just make it more fun.

Recently, in the May issue of Nature Chemistry, a group of  chemists and psychologists at British universities proposed turning the periodic table on its head. They asserted that rotating it 180 degrees about a horizontal axis would make it more like a traditional graph so that values increase from bottom to top. Most of the properties would then increase from bottom to top, including atomic number, atomic mass, atomic radius, maximum oxidation state and reactivity. Despite the inversion, each element still has all of the same neighbors that it had before, only now the chart shows the elements proceeding upwards as they gathered atomic weight and complexity. This new form might be easier for chemistry students to interpret and understand.

On another note, have you ever read The Periodic Table by Primo Levi? Published in Italy in 1975, it’s a collection of 21 autobiographical stories that each use a chemical element as a starting point, covering everything from Levi’s childhood and education and his work as a professional chemist to his life in and after Auschwitz. It was in fact chemistry that helped him survive the Holocaust. Because he was a trained chemist, he was deemed valuable enough to be slave labor for a German rubber factory.  It became a critical and commercial success when the first American version was published in 1984, and in 2006, The Periodic Table was listed by London’s Royal Institution as among the best science books ever written.


If you haven’t already, you need to check out the Spark Cafe, which is located on the second floor next to the Research Library.  The cafe is open in the mornings from 8:15 – 11:15 and in the afternoons from noon to 1:30. You can buy drinks, such as hot chocolate and flavored lattes, as well as breakfast and lunch items. The hot lunch on the menu that day is available but not the burrito bowl option. Be aware, too, that the Research Library is open in the mornings starting at 7:30.



The Academies of Loudoun opened its doors for the new academic year on Wednesday, August 21st, for an orientation so students could meet teachers and get comfortable with the layout of the school and find their classrooms. Students received their printed schedules and had a chance to congregate in the numerous open spaces with friends, as well as in the library where there were fun activities set up for the students. It was a nice welcome to the start of the second academic school year at the Academies, which officially started on the 22nd.






Congratulations to our award winners!


2nd     Paravi Das

3rd      Julia Spewak

4th      Madison Tran

5th      Sarah Shekihnureldin


3rd     Nabiah Haque


2nd     Julia Spewak

3rd     Paravi Das

1st     Paravi Das


Paravi Das – State President

Julia Spewak – Region 1 Vice President

CHAPTER OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAM: Quality Chapter and Gold Chapter:

President Sarah Shekihnureldin & Vice President Sydney Velandria


Graphic Communications, Academies of Loudoun

SKILLSUSA Virginia Board member

Pam Smith

The SKILLSUSA 55th Annual National Leadership and Skill Conference will be held June 24-28, 2019, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Lead Voting Delegate for Virginia – Paravi Das

National Anthem singer, Opening session – Paravi Das

National Pin Design – 1st Place – Paravi Das

SkillsUSA Professional Development Program #6 International Degree – Deborah Tripp

Where Exactly is the Cloud?

By Ms. Frances Roberts

“People think that data is in the cloud, but it’s not,” said Jayne Stowell, who oversees construction of Google’s undersea cable projects.  “It’s in the ocean.”

It kind of boggles the mind when you really think about the Internet. Do you even know what it is? While most of us experience the Internet through Wi-Fi and phone data plans, those systems eventually link up with physical cables that swiftly carry information across continents and even oceans.

The Internet is made up of tiny bits of code – called data – that move around the world, traveling along wires that are as thick as a strand of hair and long enough to stretch across the ocean floor. And, these bits of code move amazingly fast. The data is somehow able to zip from New York to Sydney or from Hong Kong to London in less time than it took you to read this paragraph!

A great deal of cable has already been laid to connect the continents and support our insatiable demand for information, communication and entertainment. In fact, 750,000 miles of it. In the modern era, it was the telecommunications companies that first took on the task of laying out most of the cable, but in the last ten years, American technology giants have started taking over.  In the beginning, they created a consortium to pool their resources and build – and then own – the subsea cables. Think of it as building a freeway for them all to use. Google has backed at least 14 cables globally, and Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have invested in others. These content providers now own or lease more than half of the subsea bandwidth.

A more recent option is for a company to take on an subsea cable project alone, and Google recently announced its newest one that will connect the United States to Chile, which is where the company’s largest data center is located. Google has invested $290 million in its Chilean data center to help develop its capacity in artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as to deliver cloud applications like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and Waze.

This undersea cable project will be no easy task. Although a 456-foot ship named Durable is set to deliver the cable to sea, the cable will first need to be assembled inside a large factory in Newington, New Hampshire.  The factory is owned by SubCom and is filled with specialized machinery that is used to maintain tension in the wire and encase it in protective skin. The cable will have plastic, steel and tar added to help it withstand unpredictable ocean environments, and when finished, it’ll end up the size of a thick garden hose. It takes a year of planning to chart the cable route so as to avoid underwater hazards, but the cables themselves will still have to withstand heavy currents, rock slides, earthquakes and interference from fishing trawlers. Google estimates the cable will last up to 25 years.

When the cable is ready to be installed, it will take about a month to carefully load it onto the Durable before the ship hits the open sea. Building and laying the infrastructure of our digital world is a labor-intensive job. The Durable will have to carry enough supplies to last at least 60 days at sea at a time with the 80 crew members switching off 12-hour shifts. The work is slow and plodding with the ship moving about six miles per hour, as the cables are pulled from the giant basins out through openings at the back of the ship. In areas closer to shore where there would be a higher risk of damage, an underwater plow is used to bury the cable in the sea floor.

After the Latin American project is completed, Google then plans to start on another undersea cable project called Durant, named after the first Nobel Peace Prize winner and Red Cross founder Henry Durant. The cable will stretch from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to the French Atlantic coast and will enable major expansions in their global cloud infrastructure. This cable is needed to help assure connectivity between its many other data centers around the world, including the Netherlands, Montreal, Finland and Los Angeles. Google currently has 13 data centers around the world and 8 more under construction. By building the massive subsea cable themselves, Google will then own the connectivity between its data centers and won’t have to share the bandwidth for the life of the nearly 4000-mile cable.

Durant will be expensive, to say the least. These subsea cable projects can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for not only the cost of the cable itself, but also for the specialized surface facilities needed at both ends of the cable. Google has hired TE SubCom, an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology, to design, manufacture and lay the cable for Durant. This project will add network capacity across the Atlantic, supporting one of the busiest routes on the Internet, as well as the growth of Google Cloud. The Durant cable is expected to be completed in late 2020.

The demand for subsea cables will only increase as more businesses rely on cloud computing services. Also, new technologies, such as powerful artificial intelligence and driverless cars, will also require such fast data speeds. New areas around the globe are gaining access to the Internet, and the United Nations has now reported for the first time that more than half the global population is online. All that growth and its accompanying data will require more and more subsea cables to be built. It’s truly a modern day phenomenon to imagine these many freeways under the sea.



Graham, K. (2018, July 18). Google building its own subsea cable from Virginia to France. Retrieved from

Satariano, A. (2019, March 11). How the Internet travels across oceans. Retrieved from

Stowell, J. (n.d.). Delivering increased connectivity with our first private trans-Atlantic subsea cable. Retrieved from