Office of Environmental Management

Savannah River Site Shares Science with Charleston Students

June 11, 2019

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Savannah River Nuclear Solutions employees Kim Mitchell, far left, and Francine Burroughs, second from left, demonstrate how the bess beetle's uniquely clawed feet provide traction and allow the insect to pull more than its own body weight in paper clips.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions employees Kim Mitchell, far left, and Francine Burroughs, second from left, demonstrate how the bess beetle's uniquely clawed feet provide traction and allow the insect to pull more than its own body weight in paper clips.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Engineers, scientists, and others supporting EM recently volunteered for the Savannah River Site (SRS) Science Day in partnership with the Charleston Promise Neighborhood (CPN) non-profit organization.

Employees from DOE, SRS management and operations contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), and the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory conducted science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiments and other hands-on activities with students from local elementary schools.

The children quizzed the visiting professionals about their occupations and participated in demonstrations and projects focused on the properties of “strange” liquids, solving mysteries, meteorology and weather, and flight and rocketry. The volunteers also let animals from SRS out of cages for the children to see and touch.

“We believe in the Charleston Promise Neighborhood organization and their mission,” said Kim Mitchell with SRNS educational outreach. “The SRS employees who recently traveled here see the success of this program and have the desire to step forward to help these children wherever they can, sharing their knowledge and experience.”

Thomas Johnson, deputy manager of DOE-Savannah River, helps a fourth-grade class at Mary Ford Elementary School create geometric domes out of gum drops.
Thomas Johnson, deputy manager of DOE-Savannah River, helps a fourth-grade class at Mary Ford Elementary School create geometric domes out of gum drops.
Sean Poppy with Savannah River Ecology Laboratory describes the habitat and behavior of coyotes as part of a presentation on animals found at the Savannah River Site.
Sean Poppy with Savannah River Ecology Laboratory describes the habitat and behavior of coyotes as part of a presentation on animals found at the Savannah River Site.

Camille Hendrix, principal of Mary Ford Elementary School, said she hopes the event inspired student interest in STEM careers.

“Our students don’t get a lot of hands-on science at this school. We hope this event may increase their interest in science so that one day they may get a STEM-related job. We really appreciate this opportunity,” Hendrix said.

CPN serves children and their families to help eliminate barriers preventing students from performing as well in school as their counterparts in more affluent areas of the Charleston County School District. The organization strives to create a safe, engaging environment to accelerate learning and enable students to develop skills to succeed in school, career, and life.

DOE funded the CPN after-school program’s STEM education, which is aimed at improving information retention, test scores, and academic accomplishments.

“I want to be a marine biologist and work with animals,” said Illiana Ricon Ramos, a fifth-grader at Mary Ford Elementary School. “I think what we’ve learned today will help.”

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