The future of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is bright for the three selected from the central Pennsylvania region to attend a competitive summer camp at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.
Karlee Trego and Dayna Zeiders, Mifflin County Middle School students, and Johnna Towsey, Juniata High School science teacher, said they were surprised and thrilled to receive the honor.
Each were honored at their respective schools May 29 by school, local, state, and SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) officials.
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)/ORNL 2019 Summer STEM Programs.
“We were proud to support these applicants and honor them today,” Seigel said. “They will get exposure to some of the most prestigious labs in the world.”
The three chosen from SEDA-COG’s region will join students and teachers from 13 Appalachian states this summer at the all-expenses-paid opportunity that allows students and teachers to work with world-class scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Trego and Zeiders will participate in intensive hands-on science, math, and computer science technology group research projects with award-winning scientists. ORNL staff will develop STEM-related curriculum with Towsey.
All three attendees have loved science for as long as they can remember. Trego enjoys doing experiments, like making clouds and freezing marshmallows. While she’s not quite certain as a sixth grader exactly what she wants to do when she grows up, she’s interested in paleontology since her science teacher, Amy Hartman, took them on a related field trip.
Hartman recommended both Trego and Zeiders for the camp.
Trego’s mother, Angela Trego, said they were both ecstatic and surprised by the opportunity. “I can’t do anything but thank you all for the opportunity. We were so surprised and she was super excited,” she said.
Zeiders enjoys both science and math and said she always wanted to be a scientist. The sixth grader also enjoys the hands-on side of science with experiments.
“When I grow up, I want to discover something new as a scientist; I want to invent something,” Zeiders said.
When her mother, Heidi Bishop, received the acceptance email, she was thrilled and handed it wordlessly to Zeiders.
“I was really excited,” Zeiders said, saying she jumped up and down.
When Towsey heard of the opportunity, she didn’t think it was likely she would be selected, but applied anyway.
“I couldn’t believe it – I was surprised when I was chosen,” she said. “I figured with 13 states and all of Pennsylvania, what would be the odds?”
She’s most looking forward to working in the cutting-edge laboratories with world-class scientists.
“I’ve done continuing education to stay current with technology, but I’ve never had an opportunity like this,” Towsey said, who also is a paramedic.
She is a self-described “geek” who likes “ooey-gooey things” and loves to understand why things work. “It’s that ‘why’ factor,” she said. “I’ve always loved teaching and the interaction with the kids.”
Towsey teaches 10th, 11th, and 12th grades courses of biology, Medical Terminology (through Pennsylvania College of Technology), anatomy and physiology, and environmental science.
Besides this being her first trip to Tennessee, she was excited to see all the activities like ziplining, which she learned about post-acceptance. “That sealed the deal for me!”
Now in their 30th 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. 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.
- Since 2000, more than 1,100 high school students, high school teachers, and middle school students have completed the program.
- Participants have come from 195 counties throughout the Appalachian Region.
- Since 2011, of the 584 program participants, 43 percent come from economically distressed counties or areas.
For more information about the program, visit www.arc.gov/summerSTEM.
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.
SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives.