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K-12 Students and Teachers Opportunities at ORNL

Young students with science teacher

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s K-12 education programs help foster an early interest in science by providing scholarly competitions, summer education workshops, science camps, and various research participation opportunities. All of the programs involving students under the age of 18 have been moved to the K-12 Education Programs. The K-12 programs at ORNL include the following:

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)/Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) High School Summer Math Science Technology Institute has occurred annually at ORNL for many years. The ARC/ORNL Summer Institute is a two-week program that provides a short-term, hands-on research experience for small groups of high school students and STEM teachers from the 13-state Appalachian Region. The students and teachers are nominated by State ARC representatives and selected by the Appalachian Regional Commission. ORNL mentors are invited to work with either a team of teachers or a team of students on a short-term, hands-on project that provides opportunities for the participants to be engaged in current projects at ORNL. The program highlights the critical value of ORNL and its science resources that are available to the Appalachian Region.

The High School Research Experience is a generic program for paid and unpaid internships at ORNL. Interns are selected through a competitive process. Interns usually come from FIRST Robotics teams from schools in the surrounding areas. Applicants also can be students from the high school programs outlined below that are staying a second summer and are being paid by the host. Students who apply to the HERE at ORNL - Entering Freshman program, and are not yet 18, can be placed through this program.

Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) - Entering Freshmen 
Looking to jump-start your scientific and technical career with summer experience? The HERE program is open to U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) who will be at least 18 years of age prior to the start of appointment and have a minimum GPA of 2.5/4.0. Entering freshmen must graduate from high school immediately preceding the 10-week summer appointment and be accepted at a U.S. college or university in a STEM field or related discipline following appointment. Applications will open each year on October 2 and will close on July 1; however, applications should be submitted by February 1 for the best chance of selection.

The Oak Ridge High School SECME program aims to increase the pool of historically under-represented and under-served students who will be prepared to enter and complete post-secondary studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Oak Ridge High School students are selected by the school, and are placed with a mentor at ORNL for a 10-week paid summer internship. ORAU is responsible for finding mentors for the students. The students are paid by ORNL.

The Oak Ridge High School Cooperative Program is for students in the ORHS Oak Ridge Business and Information Technology (ORBIT) Academy. This is a paid summer and academic year co-op position at ORNL. ORHS initiates contact with mentors.

Unpaid internships through Oak Ridge High School, Hardin Valley Academy, Farragut High School and the L&N STEM Academy, provide academic credit for unpaid internships with ORNL researchers. At ORHS, the internship is coordinated through the Math Department. At Farragut, this internship is a part of the school’s Math and Science academies, and at Hardin Valley Academy it is part of the students’ senior portfolio. At the L&N STEM Academy, the internship is part of the senior capstone project. The high schools and their students initiate Laboratory placements. 

Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs) is a two-week, nationally recruited, residential professional development program, sponsored by the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education, in which middle and high school teachers engage in mentored research at ORNL. Two groups of 20 teachers are selected from the field of applicants. The short-term research projects are based on current topics of national interest that are related to ongoing research at the Laboratory.

The Science Saturdays program is designed to extend the reach of ORNL beyond high schools who have previously been a part of internships at the Laboratory. The program exposes cutting-edge research at ORNL to a larger number of students, and provides an avenue to create a more selective process to a larger applicant pool of high school students for summer research appointments at ORNL. Researchers from ORNL speak at the Saturday sessions and work with a Master Teacher to create activities that are age-appropriate and pertain to the lecture. ORNL also will sponsor and host around 10 summer interns that range from 13 to 18 years old. The time frame of these internships is very flexible, with opportunities to work from home as well as at the Laboratory. 

K-12 Research Program Contact Information

For the ARC/ORNL Summer Math Science Technology Institute, please contact:
Martha Hammond
(865) 576-2564

For all other K-12 programs, please contact:
Julia Abbott
(865) 241-7501