LAPWAI, Idaho – EM Hanford Site Manager Brian Vance, far left, back row, recently visited students at the Preparing for Academic Excellence (PACE) Camp on the Nez Perce Tribe’s reservation following his briefing on Hanford Site cleanup progress to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. Vance talked with the students about his experience as a former U.S. Navy submarine officer working in nuclear related projects. He emphasized DOE’s commitment to prepare students as future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), pointing to Hanford’s Volpentest Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) Federal Training Center as a resource for real world training and knowledge sharing. Next to Vance is Solo Greene, Nez Perce Tribe education coordinator and head of the PACE Camp.
Representatives from DOE’s offices of EM and Nuclear Energy (NE) joined Vance at the PACE Camp. Using kinesthetic learning, the students simulated nuclear fuel chain reactions, tossing ping pong balls representing neutrons. As a complement to DOE’s STEM engagement visits, the Navigating Nuclear learning platform will expose students across the country to similar concepts, providing rural communities STEM learning opportunities.
NE Tribal STEM Advisor Melinda Higgins, with Chickasaw Nation Industries, guided students at the PACE Camp through multiple chemical reactions that produced gas, dynamic color, and temperature changes. Higgins supports all three of DOE’s tribal working groups, including EM’s State and Tribal Government Working Group.
A stakeholder joined DOE federal and contractor employees to promote STEM to students at the PACE Camp. From right, EM Tribal Affairs Director Albert “Brandt” Petrasek, NE Physical Scientist Jay Jones, Washington State STEM Education Foundation Executive Director Deb Bowen, and Giancarlo Casalino with DOE contractor Tribal Tech. The foundation partners with DOE and Hanford contractors to provide STEM exploration and preparation opportunities for thousands of students in the Mid-Columbia region and seeks to expand outreach to tribal students.