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Appalachian High School Students and Teachers Explore Science with Mentors from Oak Ridge National Laboratory

July 20, 2007

OAK RIDGE, TENN.OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Summer school took on new meaning for a select group of Appalachian students and teachers who took two weeks out of their vacation to learn from the world-class scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

From 11 different Appalachian states spanning New York to Mississippi, the group of 33 students and 12 teachers came to Oak Ridge to experience the latest developments and research in science and technology. In its 18th year, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)/ORNL 2007 Math-Science-Technology Summer Institute ran July 7-20. Administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), the program gave students and teachers a chance to have fun and conduct research in one of the country’s most renowned national laboratories.

Upon arriving in Oak Ridge, the students and teachers were divided into research groups led by mentors from ORNL’s research staff. The students, each nominated by their state governor and chosen by ARC based on academic and leadership potential, were split into six teams to study projects ranging from robotic systems and engineering development to the ecology of wetlands.

Cody Franks, a junior at Calhoun High School in Georgia, participated in a group focused on learning about nanoscale technology and environmental safety and health.

“My favorite parts of this program have been seeing all of the advanced equipment, making my own test tubes and learning about a new field of science,” he said. “I learned about nano technology in general, working in the cleanroom, different types of microscopes and the Spallation Neutron Source.”

The teachers also participated in three research groups under veteran ORNL scientists looking at computer graphics and molecular animation in structural biology, an ecological study of the forested areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation, and the Building Envelope Program, which identifies innovative building technologies and practices that can contribute to the energy efficiency and reliability of new and existing residential buildings.

“The most valuable part of the ARC/ORNL program for me has been the exposure to scientists who are working on the cutting edge within their fields and are willing to share what they are doing with others,” said Donald Custer, a physical and environmental science teacher at Cornell Abraxas High School in Pennsylvania. “I plan to take my experience of studying the East Fork Old Growth Forest and Pine Ridge Mature Forest and develop a number of lessons centered on plant identification and how the plants affect our eco-systems.”

Participants were also able to experience the local culture and visit attractions throughout East Tennessee. They were treated to a Tennessee Smokies (AA) baseball game, a tour of the Mayfied Dairy, and a trip to the American Museum of Science and Energy. Students and teachers also had the chance to tour the Lost Sea, the country’s largest underground lake, and to explore several schools at the University of Tennessee.

The program ended in a ceremony on Friday, July 20, that included final presentations of group research projects and comments from Anne Pope, ARC Federal Co-Chair; Thom Mason, Director of ORNL; and ORAU President Ron Townsend.

Institute Participants

Students High School Home Town
Dustin Adkins Lincoln County High School West Hamlin, WV
Ariel Auge Chautauqua Lake Central High School Mayville, NY
Amy Bagg Bainbridge Gulford High School Oxford, NY
Sean Bailey Bradford Area High School Bradford, PA
Jenn Barnes Bradford Area High School Bradford, PA
Christopher Bowman Cannon County High School Bradyville, TN
Alex Brasher Hazard County High School Blackey, KY
Phillip Carey Palmetto High School Belton, SC
Candy Cason Calhoun High School Calhoun, GA
Justin Coburn Lincoln County High School West Hamlin, WV
Ceegan Danielson Bradford Area High School Bradford, PA
Courtney Denney Vinton County High School McArthur, OH
Alissa Faulkner Canisteo-Greenwood High School Canisteo, NY
Cody Franks Calhoun High School Calhoun, GA
Becca Fuller Fort Hill High School Cumberland, MD
Tempa Grabans Vinton County High School McArthur, OH
Barrett Gray Houston High School Houston, MS
Stephen Graycheck Lumpkin County High School Dahlonega, GA
Travis Hudson Canisteo-Greenwood High School Hornell, NY
Richard Huie Calhoun High School Calhoun, GA
Jada Isenhower Murray County High School Murray County, GA
Nathan King Fort Hill High School Cumberland, MD
D’Arlous Madden LaFayette High School LaFayette, GA
Desirae Meisberger Southern Hills Joint Vocational School Mt. Orab, OH
Jessica Morrow Fannin County High School McCaysville, GA
Victoria Niemeier Western High School Latham, OH
Jennifer Pominville Palmetto High School Williamston, SC
Joe Qualls Vinton County High School Radcliff, OH
Gabrielle Rathfon North Clarion Junior/Senior High School Tylersburg, PA
Ivan Stacy Buckhorn High School Buckhorn, KY
Jonathan Strange James F. Byrnes High School Greer, SC
Chase Weaver North Clarion Junior/Senior High School Lucinda, PA
Zachary Wilson Palmetto High School Williamston, SC
Teachers High School Home Town
Terry Bennett Calhoun High School Calhoun, GA
Davette Carpenter Canisteo-Greenwood High School Bath, NY
Jerry Cremeans Lincoln County High School Branchland, WV
Jeremy Crock Waterford High School Marietta, OH
Elaine Custer Karns City High School Emlenton, PA
Donald Custer Cornell Abraxas High School Emlenton, PA
Sandy Little Jackson High School Jackson, OH
Erika Loucks Schoharie Central High School Schoharie, NY
Phillip Peyton Nelsonville-York High School Shawnee, OH
Jennifer Pruett Carroll County Intermediate School Hillsville, VA
Amber Simpson Morristown East High School Morristown, TN
Edward Whonic Lumpkin County High School Dahlonega, GA

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a unique federal-state partnership established by Congress in 1965 to bring Appalachia into the mainstream of the American economy. Through development of the 3,090 mile Appalachian Development Highway System and a range of development programs in areas like education, training, health care, telecom, entrepreneurship, job creation and basic infrastructure, ARC programs help reduce isolation and improve the lives and economic opportunities of the 23 million people living in 410 counties across 13 states that make up Appalachia.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Oak Ridge Associated Universities is a university consortium leveraging the scientific strength of 98 major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies, and private industry. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for DOE.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Group of students, one with remote manipulating small robot

ARC/ORNL Math-Science-Technology Summer Institute students show off a robot they built under the guidance of ORNL mentors as part of their Robotic Systems and Engineering Development research group. Pictured left to right are D’Arlous Madden from LaFayette, GA; Alex Brashear from Hazard, KY; Zach Wilson from Williamston, SC; and Ceegan Danielson from Bradford, Pa.
High-resolution version of photo.

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