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Outstanding Appalachian students and teachers partner with national lab scientists

July 23, 2010

Students display their individual wind turbines during the 2010 Oak Ridge Middle School Science Camp’s closing ceremony. The turbines were used to measure velocity of wind and to help students explore the uses of wind energy.

Students display their individual wind turbines during the 2010 Oak Ridge Middle School Science Camp’s closing ceremony. The turbines were used to measure velocity of wind and to help students explore the uses of wind energy.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Instead of staying home and participating with their friends in more “usual” summer activities, such as swimming and softball, fifty-one exceptional high school students, along with 13 teachers from across 13 Appalachian states, chose to take part in a two-week, hands-on camp focused on math, science and technology.

From July 10-23, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Oak Ridge Associated Universities hosted the 21st annual Math–Science–Technology Institute, where the 64 students and teachers worked on cutting edge science projects with mentors at ORNL and participated in a variety of East Tennessee tours and activities.

The students were nominated by their state governor and chosen to participate in the program by ARC, which selected the students for their potential in math and science, their potential to continue in higher learning and their potential to influence others in their communities as the leaders of tomorrow.

Since 1990, the program has provided a total of 405 students and 196 teachers with in-lab learning experiences at one of the nation’s premier national laboratories, in addition to the opportunity to visit some of the area’s most popular educational and recreational attractions.

After arriving in Oak Ridge, the participants visited Maryville College, enjoyed the Mountain Challenge “ropes course” and toured Pellissippi State Community College before being divided into six teams led by mentors and scientists.

The students were assigned projects with topics ranging from supercomputers, to use of aquaculture chemicals to alter the photochemical cycle of mercury, to robotic systems engineering and engineering development.

The teachers divided into three research teams, which focused on forest ecology; analysis of materials by x-rays; and production, uses and characterization of nanoparticles.

During this year’s institute, the participants visited the Gray Fossil Museum, the American Museum of Science and Energy and various department tours at the University of Tennessee. At ORNL, the institute’s attendees also toured the Spallation Neutron Source, the supercomputing facilities, the Center for Nanophase Materials Science and the Graphite Reactor.

In addition, the group visited various local attractions, including taking in a Tennessee Smokies baseball game and picnic, Dollywood and the Green McAdoo Cultural Center.

The summer institute concluded with a ceremony attended by ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, ORNL Director Thom Mason, ORAU’s Science Education Program Director Wayne Stevenson and ORAU’s Senior Advisor to the President Homer Fisher. Gohl noted the purpose of the summer science program was to prepare the students to compete successfully in today’s global economy, “to help make sure that you are the best,” and to make participating students “better, stronger and smarter.” Also during the ceremony, the students and teachers gave presentations and demonstrations of their projects.

In addition to the institute, ARC, ORNL and ORAU hosted a Middle School Science Camp for 26 students from 13 Appalachian states. These students also presented their research projects at the closing ceremony, which included the topics of solar energy, biofuels and wind.

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 such as education, training, health care, telecommunications, 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 420 counties across 13 states that make up Appalachia.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

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).

List of 2010 Participants

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Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Barbara Penland
Work: 865.574.3664

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Work: 865.576.0028
Cell: 865.207.7953