Between 2010-2020 the PORTSfuture Program has engaged more than 13,464 K-12 students, and about 100 college students in STEM activities focused on technology, energy, environment, entrepreneurship, and water quality issues.
Helping to grow a STEM environment for rural Appalachian schools is a primary activity for The Ohio University Voinovich School’s PORTSfuture Program. Through a grant funded from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office Environmental Management’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, PORTSfuture has been able to reach out to students in a four-county area in southern Ohio, the location of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant that is currently undergoing cleanup.
Outreach efforts include in-class activities and curriculum, business pitch competitions, science fairs, summer STEM enrichment programs, after school clubs, and PORTSfuture is beginning the development of a virtual online Appalachian STEM Enrichment Academy.
“By converting our STEM offerings to virtual platforms this year, we are being responsive to the new realities of remote learning while providing constructive, hands-on opportunities for students during these challenging times,” Stephanie Howe, PORTSfuture Program Director at the Voinovich School said. “We try to keep their interest in STEM careers for the future. The earlier we can encourage kids to think about career options, the more opportunities they will have post-graduation.”
This effort partners with other regional universities, K-12 educators and various Ohio University academic disciplines to support, collaborate and devise valuable STEM experiences for regional students.
The PORTSfuture Program's activities are performed for the benefit of the public interest, to inform cleanup efforts and future use of the PORTS facility near Piketon, Ohio and include: STEM Education, Entrepreneurship Development, and Public Engagement; Economic Impact and Workforce Modeling; Data analysis and GIS; and Ecology, Hydrology, and Site Environment applied research.
PORTSfuture interfaces with DOE, the Site-Specific Advisory Board, the local Community Reuse Organization, site contractors, Ohio EPA, elected officials, economic development entities, national experts, private sector/industries, and many other community stakeholders. For more information, visit www.portsfuture.com.