Piketon Science Alliance 04_header

Photo by John Strohmeyer

Students Engage in Interactive Learning at 2nd Annual Science Alliance in Piketon

Amanda Weed
October 20, 2011

The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs recently participated in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Second Annual Science Alliance Days, an outreach program designed to encourage students to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).More than 1,100 high school juniors and seniors from 20 school districts in Jackson, Pike, Ross and Scioto counties attended the event, held on the grounds of the DOE former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, in Piketon, Ohio on October 12th, 13th and 14th , 2011.

The event began with a tour of the plant, which included the history of the site and information on the site’s current activities and cleanup mission. After the tour, students engaged in 17 hands-on exhibits hosted by DOE, contractors, regulators, and Ohio University. The Voinovich School’s three exhibits provided students an interactive demonstration of current projects related to environmental remediation and data visualization.

Students learned the capabilities of GIS software and created a map to find the quickest route from their homes to their high school. The Raccoon Creek Watershed display included live fish, amphibians and insects from the watershed and demonstrated how biological indicators determine stream health. The Virtual PORTS program allowed students to participate in a virtual simulation of the deconstruction process of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. “Our exhibits provided students with hands-on examples of how applied sciences translate into work experiences in the areas of environmental remediation, geographic information systems, and virtual model products,” said PORTSfuture project manager Stephanie Howe.

Teachers and students were excited to build on the knowledge presented at the Science Alliance. “I would love to try doing the application (of exhibits) in the classroom,” said Ryan Fowble, a math and physics teacher at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati.

Participants from The Voinovich School were happy with the positive response to the event, and hope students gained an appreciation for science in real-world settings. “The event was a success,” said Voinovich School environmental project manager Jennifer Bowman, “ because the Voinovich School was able to assist the Department of Energy in their efforts to make science fun and (expose students) to science and environmental issues through cool visuals and hands-on exhibits.”