OAK RIDGE — Several Sevier County students were among 45 high school students taking part in the 32nd annual High School Summer Math-Science Technology Institute, which, for the second time, was conducted in a virtual format.

Seymour students include Hayley McCreary, daughter of Monica and John McCreary; and Daniella Martin, daughter of Vanessa Alasadi.

Sevierville students include Chance Loveday, son of Dara and Dennis Loveday; Peyton Deckard, son of Nicholas and Valerie Deckard; and Trace Loveday, son of Dara and Dennis Loveday.

Elaina Franklin, daughter of Reanna and Curtis Franklin, of Townsend, also attended.

The high school students joined teachers selected from across nine Appalachian states to spend two weeks, June 19-July 2, fully engaged in virtual learning experiences and hands-on research in math, science, engineering and technology (STEM).

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and ORAU hosted the exceptional learning experience. The students were nominated by Gov. Bill Lee to attend this accelerated learning program. They were selected based on their potential to excel in math and science and to continue in higher learning.

Since 2000, the program has provided this opportunity to a total of 804 students and 318 teachers.

Students and teachers participated in virtual research projects led by ORNL scientists and mentors. Students investigated 3D printing, robotics systems, spatial analysis, climate science, sensor technology, computing, and radiation biology. The teachers focused on cytogenetic biodosimetry. Students and teachers spent each day in a virtual setting working with their mentors on their projects and also took part in virtual evening activities. The virtual setting was able to give students and teachers a meaningful research experience.

“As someone who has certainly advocated for education and leadership, I believe in leveraging the creativity, ingenuity, and potential from within our Region to enhance economic vitality,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “ARC’s Academies and Institutes do just that—they help empower the next generation of leaders in building networks, honing skills, and cultivating an enduring commitment to Appalachia’s future. I welcome the students of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Summer STEM Program.”

“Encouraging growth and development for students, educators, and entrepreneurs within the ARC region is vital to sustaining regional economies and cultivating future leaders,” said Virginia Governor and ARC States’ Co-Chair Ralph Northam. “I am excited to see the great work of the new class of the 2021 Oak Ridge National Laboratory Summer STEM Academy, including our six students and teachers from Virginia!”

“Even in a virtual setting, many exciting opportunities open up for participants in the High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute and Middle School Summer Science Academy. Often, participants develop a new interest in STEM subjects and then continue to pursue STEM careers. Teachers gain a renewed passion for promoting STEM subjects with knowledge of emerging sciences and technologies,” said Chris Nelson who manages the program for ORAU.

During this year’s educational sessions, participants listened to current researchers and took part in virtual tours and a Scratch coding activity.

To see a complete list of students and teachers, and learn more about their experiences, visit https://www.orau.org/arc-ornl/default.html

About the Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.energy.gov/.