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Students come to Oak Ridge for science learning

Students and teachers from 11 Appalachian states come to Oak Ridge for summer science learning

July 24, 2015

Students come to Oak Ridge for science learning

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Most students spend their summer vacation enjoying outdoor activities and generally taking a break from school and learning, but 38 exceptional high school students along with 13 teachers from across 11 Appalachian states chose to spend two weeks of their summer participating in a hands-on institute focused on math, science and technology.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and ORAU hosted the 26th annual High School Summer and Math-Science-Technology Institute from July 11-24, during which the students and teachers worked on cutting-edge science projects with mentors at ORNL and participated in a variety of East Tennessee tours and activities.

Students were nominated by their state’s governor and chosen to participate in the program by ARC. They were selected based on their potential to excel in math and science, to continue in higher learning and to influence others in their communities as the leaders of tomorrow.

Since 2000, the program has provided a total of 580 students and 236 teachers with in-lab learning experiences at one of the nation's premier national laboratories. In addition, participants have had the opportunity to visit some of the area’s most popular educational and recreational attractions.

The two-week institute kicked off with a ropes course at Mountain Challenge on the campus of Maryville College and a guided tour of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Students and teachers were then divided into teams led by mentors and scientists.

The students were assigned projects that dealt with supercomputers, the design of novel polymeric materials using computer simulation, fusion and materials for nuclear systems, robotics systems and engineering development, chemical sciences and biosciences.

The teachers were divided into four research teams that focused on chemical sciences, physics, energy and transportation sciences and biosciences.

During this year’s institute, the participants visited the Museum of Appalachia and the American Museum of Science and Energy. At ORNL, the institute’s attendees also toured the Spallation Neutron Source, the supercomputing facilities, the Center for Nanophase Materials Science and the EVEREST laboratory. The group also visited local attractions, including Dollywood and WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, and took a riverboat dinner cruise aboard the Star of Knoxville.

The summer institute concluded with a ceremony attended by ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, who said, “The ARC-ORNL program is a strategic investment in the next generation of Appalachians. Each winter ARC hears from parents, grandparents, and teachers how the program's graduates are more engaged in science and technology course work. The ARC-ORNL program is an investment of federal dollars that pays dividends.”

In addition to the high school institute, ARC, ORNL and ORAU hosted a middle school summer science academy attended by 26 students. The students presented their research projects, which focused on solar energy, biofuels and wind, at the July 24 closing ceremony.

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 25 million people living in the 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).

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