A State College Area High School student is one of 26 students across 13 Appalachian states selected to attend a unique summer residential learning opportunity focusing on the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) invited and supported applications from middle and high school students and high school teachers from its 11-county region to attend the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) 2018 Summer STEM Programs.
Initially, one student was chosen from the 11-county SEDA-COG region. Recently, SEDA-COG was informed that a second student, Baxter Hostetler, also was chosen to attend in this competitive process.
Hostetler, a junior, said chemistry is his favorite subject, and he’s pleased and pleasantly surprised that he was chosen for the program in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
“I was pretty happy because it’s a great opportunity and I didn’t really think I would get in, so I was a little surprised,” the 17-year-old said.
His chemistry teacher, Tod McPherson, alerted him to the opportunity and wrote his recommendation letter.
“Baxter brings a strong work ethic and natural curiosity to the classroom… He wants to know how things work and understand how the natural world fits together,” McPherson wrote in his support letter.
Hostetler is looking forward to “gaining a better understanding of various concepts” he’s learning about, and is excited to see how it informs his career choices. His interests in chemistry lean him toward that field, he said.
His mother, Michelle Hostetler, said when she heard of it, she thought it was a great opportunity, as well.
“This is a good way for him to explore and learn about something new, and help him in terms of thinking about what he wants to do and major in at college,” she said.
While he enjoys the State College area, saying that he “likes the Penn State campus downtown – there’s a lot more to do than you’d think since it’s not a big town,” he also is excited to travel to Tennessee.
“I don’t really go to many camps or opportunities like this,” he said.
Bill Seigel, SEDA-COG executive director, expressed appreciation for the opportunities the ARC/ORNL Summer STEM Programs offer to the students and teachers of the region, and congratulated Hostetler.
“On behalf of the SEDA-COG Board of Directors, we congratulate Baxter, and we know this program will enhance his educational and career opportunities. Thank you to the Appalachian Regional Commission for making this possible,” Seigel said.
In total, two students and two teachers were selected from the SEDA-COG region for the program.
This all-expenses-paid opportunity allows students and teachers to work with world-class scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. At the ARC/ORNL 2018 Summer STEM Programs, students will participate in intensive hands-on science, math, and computer science technology group research projects with award-winning scientists. ORNL staff will assist high school faculty in developing STEM-related curriculum. High school students and teachers attend for two weeks, and middle school students attend for one week, both in July.
The programs culminate in a graduation ceremony showcasing participants’ work. Now in their 29th year, the programs often are the first major exposure participating students—many of whom are from Appalachia’s most economically distressed counties—have to applied science and STEM education. The programs include lab time and visits to nearby industries, universities, and museums to experience real-world applications of science, math, and technology.
For more information about the program, visit www.arc.gov/summerSTEM.
SEDA-COG is a regional multi-county development agency, which, under the guidance of a public policy board, provides leadership, expertise and services to communities, businesses, institutions and residents. SEDA-COG seeks to enhance growth opportunities in an environmentally sensitive manner while retaining the region’s predominantly rural character. The organization is both a direct service provider and a link to other resources that can be applied to a wide range of community and economic needs. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information about SEDA-COG, visit www.seda-cog.org.