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ORAU: Then & Now

4 ways students and teachers will benefit from this summer’s ARC Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge


The Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge is a hands-on learning experience for middle and high school students, as well as teachers. This year’s academy, hosted by ORAU in Oak Ridge, is set to take place July 6-19. The program is an opportunity for students and educators in the Appalachian region to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In addition to research, the program promotes teamwork, college opportunities, and greater awareness of the cultural richness and historical importance of the Appalachian region. Here are four reasons why students and teachers should be excited about the opportunity:

  1. Group collaboration

As students and teachers know, working in a group is a great way to learn. When it comes to the Appalachian STEM Academy, collaboration and teamwork are a big part of the program. Students get to work closely with each other to come up with solutions to real-world problems. In many cases, these are issues or concerns that they have noticed need improvement in their own hometowns. At the end of the program, the groups get to share their research with the other students, teachers, faculty, and their families. The teachers who take part in the program also get to collaborate with each other during their two-week session. While they will have a research focus as well, the teachers also take back ideas for lessons to apply to their classrooms just by talking to each other throughout the program.

  1. Interacting with experts

One of the biggest advantages of the Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge is that participants get the opportunity to work alongside national laboratory scientists. While many participants come from economically distressed counties, where few opportunities exist to explore scientific collaboration and STEM ideas, this experience increases their exposure to applied science and other applications of STEM in the real world. Connecting the students and teachers to the researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and giving them a chance to interact with the scientists is something that they would never have had the opportunity to do back home.

  1. Team-building activities and sight seeing

In addition to getting to tour multiple parts of ORNL, participants of the Appalachian STEM Academy will get to explore other parts of beautiful East Tennessee during their visit. After an exciting day of research, teachers and students will have time to just hang out together and make new friends as they take part in exciting team-building activities. Whether it’s spending the day at Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge or taking a hike through the stunning Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is plenty of fun for everyone, and the evening activities are always one of the many highlights of the program.

  1. Lifelong connections and life lessons

The connections made at the Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge extend far beyond the summer. There have been many stories throughout the years where lifelong bonds have been formed between students across different states or teachers who were not only peers, but became great friends. In addition, the skills that participants learn through their research is something that they can carry with them for years to come as they advance their careers. One of the biggest parts of ORAU’s mission is keeping our nation on the leading edge of science and technology. We believe that both students and teachers play a big role in this, which is why we put so much effort into educating the next generation in STEM.

Are you excited for this year’s Appalachian Regional Commission’s Appalachian STEM Academy? Be sure to check out ORAU’s other K-12 student programs and K-12 educator programs!

ORAU Media Contacts and Information

About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam BoneeDirector, CommunicationsCell: (865) 603-5142
Wendy WestManager, CommunicationsCell: (865) 207-7953