Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) has been sharing its diverse science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program with local public and private schools since 2008, when it became the site’s management and operations contractor.
“Elementary school through college, the statistics over the years validate SRNS support for quality education throughout the region,” said Kim Mitchell, with SRNS education outreach programs. “It’s truly an honor to assist and serve these amazing teachers and wonderful students who are the lifeblood of our future.”
To date, SRNS has provided more than $5 million for education outreach, supporting more than 275,000 students and teachers throughout seven counties near SRS.
“We value the transformative community partnerships we have with organizations like Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, and the 12 outreach programs they provide that directly impact our faculty and students,” said King Laurence, Aiken County Public Schools superintendent. “Whether it’s $1,000 mini-grants for teachers or dozens of scientists and engineers visiting our schools, we look forward to years of continued success with SRNS.”
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted SRNS to develop innovative methods and incorporate cutting-edge technology to reach students and educators, creating multiple virtual platforms for that audience.
“We’re confident that virtual reality technology and web-based apps will strongly and positively impact students and teachers,” Mitchell said. “And in time, when we return to business as usual, these tools will continue to reach a much broader group throughout the region than we’ve documented in the past.”
SRS virtual field trips showcase science lessons about the site, targeting students with educational content specific to their grade levels. Some of the field trip lessons help participants determine the health of a pond, or assist endangered species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. Students can also explore the inner workings of a mass spectrometer in a site laboratory. That highly sensitive piece of equipment allows laboratory personnel to separate individual components of a substance, resulting in the exact identification of each component and the amount present in the substance being tested.
“Feedback from educators and administrators affirm that the SRNS Education Outreach Program has been highly successful, significantly impacting school systems throughout South Carolina and the greater Augusta, Georgia area,” said Mitchell.
The SRNS STEM-intensive offerings include a traveling science demonstration program, workshops, tours, talks, demonstrations, and other content.
Some programs test the depth of students’ knowledge and experience. They include the South Carolina Regional Science Fair, DOE Savannah River Regional Science Bowl, and the Regional Future City Competition.
SRNS also offers annual mini-grants to area teachers through corporate funding. To date, SRNS has contributed more than $700,000 to support educators in the region.
To reach local adults pursuing higher education degrees, SRNS has signed memorandums of understanding with local technical colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and other four-year degree institutions such as the University of South Carolina Aiken.
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