Source: EM Update | Vol. 11, Issue 20; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | May 28, 2019


The UCOR grants fund a variety of projects. Here, a team of students from Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge take part in a robotics challenge.

Designing and building a robot. Learning to print in 3-D. Researching current events and then producing a news media show.

These are a few of the activities local schools will now be able to offer students thanks to grants from the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management’s cleanup contractor UCOR.

This year, the company awarded 36 grants totaling $27,500 to those schools for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects. Known as mini-grants, the awards range from $500 to $1,000 and will be used to purchase materials to enhance STEM education.

“It’s never too early to start thinking about the next generation of workers,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO. “The material purchased from our mini-grants provides students with an awareness and appreciation of science careers and will hopefully open their minds to pursuing education in a STEM field.”

UCOR has awarded more than $150,000 in mini-grants since 2012. The funding is part of the company’s community support program, which focuses on children’s advocacy, education and workforce development, health and wellness, and conservation.

The projects funded by the grants involve a variety of science topics, including gardening, solar energy, alternative building materials, and weather.

“I will use the materials purchased with the mini-grant to teach my students how flowing water can move soil and rocks from one place to another, changing the shape of a landform and how this can affect living things,” said Linda Collins, a teacher from Wynn Habersham Elementary School in neighboring Campbell County, Tennessee. “We will have learning stations set up to investigate forces and motion as well as engineering and design.”