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ARC Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge - Middle School

Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge logo

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), in collaboration with ORAU in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, presents a one-week, residential, science academy focusing on math, science, and technology for middle school students in July.

The ARC Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge - Middle School is a unique opportunity for students to work in collaborative teams with experienced teachers to utilize current technology to answer a research question. Students work in three specific teams, each comprising 8-9 students. The team approach provides an opportunity to collaboratively tackle a specific research topic and investigate it using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach.

The Academy curriculum is developed by area Master Teachers utilizing national and state science standards, area scientific expertise, and best practices in education. The Master Teachers also arrange tours, speakers and competitions, and assume primary teaching responsibilities for content delivery, hands-on experimentation, data collection, data analysis and final presentations. Three resident teachers typically assist with the curriculum presentation and daily student explorations and research.

In addition to the science activities, each day will include group sessions where students will be given the opportunity to apply what they have learned from the day’s events. This builds a better understanding of the day’s science activities and allows students to apply their knowledge in a hands-on approach to science.

The week culminates with final presentations where each group presented their work and findings to an audience of ARC, ORAU dignitaries, parents, and friends.

Visit the ARC Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge - Middle School website

Impact Areas

3D printing

Over the course of the week, students learn the basics and application of 3D modeling and additive manufacturing. Once students understand the basics of 3D modeling and printing, they are given a problem and use the engineering design process to come up with a creative solution that they model, print, and test. During the week, they have the opportunity to hear from scientists from ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and visit 3Dimension Designs to learn about how additive manufacturing is making its way in the workforce.

Young students learn about 3D printing from their teacher


Taking on the role of a forensic scientist, students learn to collect and analyze evidence using several different scientific methods. The group is posed with an unsolved case along with the chance to collect forensic evidence. They crack the case by using finger print, hair, blood, and chromatography evidence, as well as an analysis of unknown substances left at the crime scene. Students hear from a representative with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation about what it’s like to work in a forensic chemistry lab. They also go to the Alcatraz Crime Museum to participate in a hands-on, forensic experience.

A female student conducts an experiment in a laboratory setting


Students spend the week learning to code through the use of drones. Using the Tynker app, they learn the basics of coding with both block code and JavaScript. Equipped with the knowledge of writing code, students complete several challenges by coding their drones to do specific movements, and finally, write their own drone/coding challenge.

A male student and teacher experiment with flying a small drone

Important dates

The 2023 application period is closed. Stay tuned for 2024 academy registration.

Young male learning 3D printing

See what the Academy is all about!

Contact us

For additional information or if you have questions about the ARC Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge - Middle School, please contact