You are here

UCOR Deputy Waste Disposition Manager Clint Mori talks with students at Family Science Saturday about how he uses engineering solutions in his job.
UCOR Deputy Waste Disposition Manager Clint Mori talks with students at Family Science Saturday about how he uses engineering solutions in his job.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – What does an assortment of spaghetti, scotch tape, marshmallows, and lots of recycled soda cans have in common?

   They’re all part of an engaging weekend science outing for elementary and middle school students hosted by UCOR, the DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) lead cleanup contractor.

   To assist EM in developing the next generation of science professionals, UCOR is sponsoring Family Science Saturdays at the new American Museum of Science and Energy facility.

   These events focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics activities. The workshops feature a team activity, construction of mini-robots, and a guest speaker who shares engineering and environmental restoration challenges.

   “We are committed to being a valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) resource in the community to help develop the next generation of scientific professionals, and we appreciate UCOR’s innovative efforts to introduce young minds to these fields,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said.

American Museum of Science and Energy Science Educator Kathleen Lyon measures structure heights in the “marshmallow challenge.”
American Museum of Science and Energy Science Educator Kathleen Lyon measures structure heights in the “marshmallow challenge.”

   At each event, guest speakers prepare students to think about how an engineering solution — like a robot — might be developed to assist environmental engineering work. The students analyze goals, challenges, and potential solutions, followed by examples used by UCOR’s employees. These employees discuss challenges and guide students through scenarios based on their actual work in Oak Ridge.

   The team building activity, led by Dr. Alicia Laffoon of Tennessee Technological University, divides students into groups for a “marshmallow challenge.” With materials consisting of dry spaghetti sticks, tape, string, and a marshmallow, the challenge encourages teamwork as groups compete to build the tallest freestanding structure with a marshmallow on top.

   The mini-robots, which participants construct from recycled cans, introduce students to green concepts, such as repurposing, upcycling, and alternative energy. With robots such as the “Tin Can Edge Detector” and “Solar Rover,” the students learn how to use recycled materials and renewable energy.

   UCOR plans to provide a Family Science Saturday for high school students in 2019.

Email Updates