Middle school students use scientific methods to characterize items in soil during a STEM Like Me! session with Hanford Site workers.
Middle school students use scientific methods to characterize items in soil during a STEM Like Me! session with Hanford Site workers.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Work is underway to equip the next generation of the workforce with technical skills to continue safe cleanup of the Hanford Site.

   EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) is bringing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to local middle school students through a program called STEM Like ME!, together with the Washington State STEM Education Foundation.

CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company mentor Maple Lee demonstrates the limits of a rotary corded phone during a “Technology Over Time” module.
CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company mentor Maple Lee demonstrates the limits of a rotary corded phone during a “Technology Over Time” module.

   CHPRC’s participation in STEM Like ME! is part of the contractor’s commitment to promote opportunities in the local community for bringing the next generation of workers to Hanford and enhancing the quality of life and diversity in the community.

   STEM Like ME! creates a setting for middle school students to participate in hands-on activities with mentors working in fields closely tied to STEM careers. CHPRC employees mentor students on technology development, electricity, communication, waste characterization, and other topics to create excitement about STEM fields and related careers at Hanford.

Students use circuit boards to learn to follow instructions in a STEM Like ME! activity with mentor Tonya Bean, an industrial hygienist from the Hanford Site.
Students use circuit boards to learn to follow instructions in a STEM Like ME! activity with mentor Tonya Bean, an industrial hygienist from the Hanford Site.

   In the last year, 28 mentors from CHPRC worked with more than 600 seventh- and eighth-graders on STEM activities.

   “CHPRC jumped in full force and added to the program by designing and piloting a company-driven model for the STEM Like ME! program that is now an example for other contractors and businesses across the state to follow,” said Deb Bowen, executive director for the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and the Mid-Columbia STEM Network.