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News from STP: STEM Teachers Learn about Nuclear, Inspire Their Students

July 20, 2012

    Approximately 400-500 employees will leave the company over the next five to seven years - retiring after more than 20 years with STP. Replacing these teammates is critical to sustaining performance.

    This information was an exciting message to four high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers visiting the site for STEM camp.

    Since 2008, STP has hosted STEM teachers each summer as part of its Workforce Development plan, coordinated by Clarence Fenner, Workforce Development. The STEM camp familiarizes teachers with the nuclear industry and STP's career opportunities. The teachers, in turn, pass on to their students their experience of working at a nuclear energy facility, and the type of career opportunities that are available.

    "This experience helps us pass on the information to the students," said Heidi Elliott, an algebra teacher at El Campo High School. "It's a great opportunity for students."

    The teachers were on site through Thursday, July 19. They visited with several departments at STP, including Environmental, Health Physics, Safety, Operations and Maintenance. Teachers use what they learn to develop lesson plans for their students utilizing nuclear science scenarios.

    Before coming to STP, the group visited Texas A&M University, where they were matched with engineering professors and acted as Research Experience Teachers. To date, Texas A&M and STP have jointly trained 15 math and science teachers - including this summers' teachers - all from local and regional high schools and one high school principal.

    The teachers will take what they learned back to their students, which helps STP spread the word about the opportunities for high school students - whether they want to pursue a four-year degree or a two-year associates' degree.

    "I didn't realize there were so many different engineering disciplines," said Chris Skinner, a physics and biology teacher at El Campo High School. "There are many different avenues for a student to take if they're interested in math and science."

    "I think it is an exciting time for the kids, because of the attrition that is coming. Most of the students don't realize this type of opportunity is so close to home when they ask the question, 'when am I going to need this math? When am I ever going to need this science?' We can now give them a better answer," said Don Ahysen, algebra teacher at Bay City High School. "You have an opportunity to work 30 miles from your home and make a very good living. Don't give up on high school just because you don't think college is for you. If you have a math and science background, this may be a choice for you."

    Math and science teachers (above, from left), Don Ahysen, Heidi Elliott and Chris Skinner learn the basics of radiation protection from Fred Sutter, Staff Technical Training Instructor.


    STEM teachers learn about radiation protection from Fred Sutter, Staff Technical Training Instructor. The STEM teachers take back to their classrooms what they learn at STP.