Newport News teachers deliver Books on Bikes to students over summer
Two Newport News teachers delivered books on their bikes to students this summer.

Two teachers at Epes Elementary School in Newport News just completed a summer of delivering books via bicycle to students around the city.

Karen Ciotta and Michele McLean handed out books and popsicles to youngsters during the Books on Bikes program they started, which was modeled on those in several Virginia cities, Ciotta said. Ciotta used a $320 instructional innovation mini-grant from the program sponsored by the Newport News Education Foundation in partnership with the Hampton Roads Chapter of the National Council for Jewish Women and Newport News Public Schools, and some other donations, to buy books and bikes.

The pair went out twice a week for two hours from June 18 through Aug. 20.

"I thought it went really well for a first year," Ciotta said. "We modeled it on Books on Bikes in Charlottesville, and just took what they did and made it work for us here in Newport News. We gave out tons of books and tons of popsicles, and kids were reading and seemed really excited about reading."

The pair went to Boys and Girls Clubs and daycare centers in various school zones. They also went into neighborhoods in the Epes zone looking for kids who were outside.

"One evening we went into the neighborhood and found lots of kids out playing, so want to do that more in the future," McLean said. "We'd go into the neighborhood and see kids, talk to them, most of them would know who we were.

"We'd ask them if they'd like a book and a popsicle. They'd kind of look at us. And we'd say, 'OK, go ask your parents if it's OK for you to have a book and a popsicle.'"

Bus tracking app available in Newport News

Piloted at some schools last year, the Here Comes the Bus app is available for all Newport News Public Schools parents and students for the coming school year, according to NNPS officials. The app allows families to view the real-time location of their child's school bus on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

The app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and is available in English, Spanish and French. There is a fee for the app while basic access on the website is free.

To sign up, visit, enter account number 74046 and the student's NNPS ID number.

NASA looking for college students' designs

NASA is offering undergraduate college students an opportunity to work in the deep end of spacewalk training through the Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams activity, according to a statement from NASA.

Micro-g NExT challenges students to design and build prototypes of spacewalking tools to be used by NASA astronauts for spacewalk training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The deadline for proposal submissions is Oct. 26. Student selections will be announced in December. For information, visit

Williams can be reached at 757-247-4644 and

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