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Appalachian Regional Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and ORAU open the door for students learning about STEM

July 10, 2018

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—The door to the intriguing world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will swing wide open for exceptional students and teachers this summer. They will spend two weeks learning and conducting experiments with scientists and mentors.

The hands-on experience from July 7 to July 20 will be hosted by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and ORAU.

Image from 2017 ARC ORNL STEM Institute

In its 29th year, the High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute and Middle School Summer Science Academy will bring together 26 middle school students, 37 high school students and 15 teachers from across 11 Appalachian states. Many of these students come from Appalachian counties that are classified as economically distressed or in economic transition by ARC.

Since 2000, the program has expanded opportunities for a total of 684 students and 283 teachers with real-world experiences in STEM research, including learning experiences at one of the country's leading national laboratories.

Once they arrive in Oak Ridge, the students and teachers will join scientists and mentors to undertake a wide range of STEM projects. The teacher teams will focus on chemical sciences, neutron sciences, molecular biophysics and cytogenetic biodosimetry. The student teams will investigate supercomputers, robotics systems and engineering development.

The discovery sessions will allow time for questions, networking and career-focused discussions. Field trips will reinforce career possibilities in the STEM areas. Participants will tour the historic Graphite Reactor and ORNL research and supercomputing facilities. Excursions will expand participants' knowledge of STEM topics and encourage them to pursue further STEM studies. The enrichment activities are especially beneficial to students because in the participant selection process, preference is given to students with limited access to STEM education and resources, students from an ARC-designated distressed county, and students with the potential to be the first in their families to attend college.

"The ARC-ORNL Summer Institute is often the first intensive exposure many of these students have to STEM fields," said Tim Thomas, ARC Federal Co-Chair. "Every year, we hear from program alumnae about how their summer institute experiences at ORNL have helped them reach their academic potential and inspired a lifetime of learning and leadership."

"Many exciting opportunities will open up for participants at the High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute and Middle School Summer Science Academy. Often, participants will develop a lifelong love of STEM subjects. Students frequently will select careers in these fields, and teachers will gain new passion for promoting STEM subjects," says Marie Westfall, who manages the program for ORAU.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC's mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

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).

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
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Cell: 865.207.7953