Paducah Area Students See Opportunities in STEM

Encouraging student interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is critical to meeting EM’s future challenges related to environmental cleanup and decontaminating and decommissioning nuclear facilities.  

That’s why EM and its contractors at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant Site collaborate with administrators and teachers in school districts in western Kentucky to identify critical areas of need and ways that businesses can help prepare students for the future.

“The Department and its contractors have career opportunities locally as well as across the nation,” said Jennifer Woodard, Paducah Site Lead for EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. “Students with a strong foundation in science, engineering and math combined with problem-solving skills will have many interesting options and career fields in their future.”

Volunteers from EM and its contractors participated in Career Day at McCracken County High, Carlisle County Middle, and Ballard County Elementary schools. Many employee volunteers also have mentored students and participated in local science fairs and regional events, including DOE’s National Science Bowl.

As part of the Paducah Site’s educational outreach efforts for the 2015 school year, several employees from EM contractors LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky and the Fluor Federal Services Paducah Deactivation Project recently participated in career days, career fairs, and classroom presentations to help the students connect classroom science with real-world careers.

Mentors used safety tools such as an anemometer (wind speed meter), light, sound and cable-height meters, and personal protective clothing. They also showed PowerPoint presentations with embedded videos, pictures, and model illustrations to help students understand and get excited about STEM.  

Reflecting on the activity, one sixth-grade student at Carlisle County Middle School said, “I learned about teamwork and how to get along with others. Also, I learned what choices I have in life, how to be safe, and how to use tools to help be safe.”