July 25, 2015
It was a full, tiring day that featured trips to MTU America, the Savannah River Ecology Lab and the Applied Research Center near SRS.
But Jennifer Forshey, a teacher from Hampton County, learned a lot of useful information that she believes will eventually translate into nuclear-related jobs for students.
A group of 50 teachers made the research center their last stop Friday on a day-long learning experience in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
Most of the teachers on the tour were from Aiken County, but there were also some from other areas who wanted to take part in the educational experience.
Forshey said the tour was part of a STEM class she was taking, but that the implications of the tour hold a deeper meaning.
“I wanted to see what’s going on with jobs and how we can get our kids motivated to have careers,” Forshey said. “We want to get them to understand that there really are great opportunities right here for them.”
The tours are part of a collaborative effort with area entities including Aiken Technical College, USC Aiken, MTU America and others to bring teachers to different industries.
The effort is to gain insight on STEM-related programs so the teachers can share that information with their students. Specifically, research center officials including Dr. George Wicks took students on a tour of the facility on Gateway Drive, spoke to them about the center’s work on national security efforts and work being conducted on wind energy and other energy sources.
Elizabeth Dykes, the STEM education coordinator for Aiken Tech, said the various groups want teachers to see what science looks like in everyday life.
“What kind of jobs can their students be trained to do so that they can make the same kind of difference in the science community?” Dykes said. “We want the students to get excited about possibly choosing this challenging, important career path.”
Dr. Joette Sonnenberg, an engineering and energy official at the research center, said the group of teachers was the second group the center has hosted this summer, pushing the total to well over 100 educators this year alone.
“We’re not only exposing them to the facility itself, but a lot of the technologies,” Sonnenberg said. “It’s great being able to show them how those technologies fit into the commercial markets and the ultimate goal of job creation.”