While the majority of young students were using their break from school to enjoy nice weather and a variety of summer activities, 34 exceptional high school students along with 13 teachers from across 12 Appalachian states chose to spend two weeks of their summer vacation participating in a hands-on institute focused on math, science, and technology.
The Appalachian Regional Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities hosted the 25th annual High School Summer and Math-Science-Technology Institute from July 7-18, 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 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 542 students and 223 teachers with in-lab learning experiences at one of the nation’s premier national laboratories. In addition, they have had the opportunity to visit some of the area’s most popular educational and recreational attractions.
The two-week camp 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.
The group also visited various 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 praised the summer science institute noting that “this fun and engaging two-week program energizes students to learn more about science, technology and math, which hopefully will lead to college studies in these areas that grow into a lifetime of fulfilling and rewarding experiences in a related career.” Gohl encouraged the students to “grow your passion” of science, which was apparent as the students and teachers gave presentations and demonstrations of their projects during the ceremony.
In addition to the institute, ARC, ORNL, and ORAU hosted a Middle School Science Camp for 24 students from 11 Appalachian states. These students also presented their research projects at a closing ceremony, which focused on 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 24 million people living in 420 counties across 13 states that make up Appalachia.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, health, education and national security. 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 ORISE for DOE. Learn more about ORAU at www.orau.org.