Puerto Rico Students Here Last Summer

Fifteen high school students from Tennessee and Puerto Rico participated in an eight-week program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to encourage minority and economically disadvantaged students to pursue careers in math and science.

The Summer Educational Experience for the Disadvantaged (SEED), sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), was in its sixth year. The students--ten from Puerto Rico and five from Wartburg, Tennessee--studied several different scientific disciplines at ORNL, including engineering, biogenetics, chemistry, the information superhighway, and environmental studies. The program is coordinated through ORNL's Office of Science Education and External Relations.

"This program has helped me to focus on what I want to study in college," said Dustin Harris of Central High School in Wartburg. This was Harris' second summer in the Applied Systems Technology Section in ORNL's Engineering Technology Division. As part of his research, Harris, a senior who wants to major in engineering, estimated the damage an explosion might create inside an airplane.

To qualify for the SEED program, economically disadvantaged students must have at least one year of high school chemistry, a strong academic record, and a recommendation by a faculty member.

Applications go to all schools within driving distance of the laboratory and to participating programs in Puerto Rico. The students from Puerto Rico came from the Comprehensive Activities for Upgrading Sciences Achievement (CAUSA) program and the preengineering program of the Ana G. Mendez University System. Both programs host Saturday classes for students in math, science, and languages.

CAUSA also selects two teachers from Puerto Rico to participate in ORNL faculty programs for the summer and to chaperone the students. This past year, CAUSA chose Josi Rivera Acosta, a returning participant and secondary-school math teacher working in the Computing Applications Division, and Sonia Garcma Hernandez, a chemistry teacher working in the Environmental Sciences Division.

SEED students participated in special weekly seminars in addition to their research initiatives. This past summer, lecture topics included statistics, overcoming obstacles to having a career in science, navigating on the Internet, and genetic research and ethics.

Inda Rodriguez, a student from Puerto Rico. who would like to study chemical engineering, said, "I enjoyed working here because I learned about chemistry and because the people are so nice."

DOE's High School Honors Program

Fifty-seven students from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and from France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Northern Ireland participated in the Department of Energy's seventh annual High School Honors Program July 22 through August 5, 1994, at ORNL.

The program provided a summer research experience for high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen who exhibit outstanding academic records. Each state and participating foreign country selected one student to participate in a two-week research experience in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division (ESD).

The focus was on small-group, "hands-on" laboratory and field research to encourage students to pursue careers in math and science, especially environmental sciences disciplines. All expenses, including travel, were paid by DOE.

Students, working with research staff scientists, investigated issues related to the theme of environmental impact. Student teams of two to six members researched topics such as neutron activation analysis of trace elements in soil, evaluation of habitat for wildlife, DNA studies of environmental samples, development of a surface-water hydrology monitoring plan, and bioabsorption and fermentation as a remediation technology. Each team prepared a written and oral report to present their research findings.

"Theme Groups" in which students studied all sides of an issue of national or global importance, were a second component of the program. This activity was designed to model a public forum where students participate in role-playing opposing factions. Some of the issues that students explored included environmental deficits, toxicants in the environment, deforestation and sustainable agriculture, obligations to future generations, the role of computer networks, data sharing, and ethics in scientific data sharing and publication.

The DOE High School Honors Program encourages students to return to ORNL for summer or semester internships during their college career. "For the past few years, we have averaged a return of five to eight students per year," says Julie Watts, ESD coordinator for the program. "We now have a 1988 high school honors graduate working full time with ESD. This program has been a real success."

Students were housed at Maryville College. Four area teachers served as residential supervisors and coordinated social activities.

Other activities included tours of the ORNL facilities, seminars, and opportunities to talk with scientists working in areas of special interest to students. The program is coordinated through ORNL's Office of Science Education and External Relations.--Kimberly Baker

Superconducting Motor Spins at EnvironMental Fair

A new demonstration motor based on commercial high-temperature superconducting wire was unveiled by ORNL at the recent EnvironMental Fair, held October 6, 1994, at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. The motor was developed to demonstrate electric power uses of new superconducting wires. Designed primarily for educational use at area schools and museums and for visitors to ORNL, the motor is the size of a two-pound coffee can and uses liquid nitrogen to cool the superconductor.

The heart of the motor is a coil of high-temperature superconducting wire made of BSCCO, an oxide consisting of a mixture of bismuth, strontium, calcium, copper, and oxygen. This coil was supplied by one of ORNL's partners, American Superconductor Corporation (Westborough, Massachusetts) as part of an ongoing collaboration to develop electric power applications of high-temperature superconductors. American Superconductor produces flexible high-temperature ceramic superconducting wires for coils and systems such as motors and current limiters.

The superconducting coil produces a magnetic field that interacts with electric current flowing in a copper armature to produce the force that causes the armature assembly to rotate. The armature current is switched using a brush and commutator assembly available from a local hobby shop. When fully cooled, the motor rotates at 300 to 500 revolutions per minute. The armature assembly is constructed from flat-wound copper coils, provided by Advanced Sound, a Knoxville, Tennessee, firm.

This portable, educational tool operates using a few dry cell batteries and, of course, the liquid nitrogen coolant. Liquid nitrogen boils at 77 degrees K (-321 degrees F), a temperature that is much colder than the lowest temperature ever recorded at the South Pole. Electric motors and generators using this new technology will be more efficient than conventional machines. They will consume fewer of the earth's natural resources such as iron because they are smaller than conventional motors with the same power.

The motor demonstrator was developed as part of the educational activity of ORNL's Superconductivity Program for Electric Power Systems. This program is funded as part of DOE's national effort to develop the technology necessary for U.S. industry to proceed to commercial applications of high-temperature superconductivity.

In addition to the motor demonstrator, the ORNL program has produced a "Teacher's Guide to Superconductivity for High School Students" and "An Introduction to Cryogenics and Superconductivity for Middle School Students." These guides were produced by teachers who participated in the Teacher Research Associates program, a program funded at ORNL by DOE's Office of Science Education and Technical Information.

Oak Ridge Science Semester Is 25 Years Old

ORNL's Oak Ridge Science Semester Program is entering its 25th year. The program involves undergraduate participants from colleges of the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM).

Deans from the 12 GLCA colleges came to ORNL on November 3, 1994, to get a first-hand look at the program, which has served as a model for the other DOE laboratories. They also attended the annual poster session, highlighting the studentsŐ research projects.

In this program, students perform research at the cutting edge of science; learn to operate sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment and instruments; and supplement their laboratory research experience with seminars, workshops, and courses under the direction of ORNL staff scientists. Three resident faculty members from colleges of the consortium also are assigned to the Laboratory to do research, teach courses, and counsel the students.

"This is a very rich program that has grown substantially over the past 25 years," said George Gilbert, director of the Oak Ridge Science Semester Program. The program has been a wonderful experience for the students to work with top-notch scientists and has provided an excellent educational opportunity for the laboratory."

The 16-week science semester provides opportunities for student research and advanced study in energy-related areas of science and technology, including the biomedical, environmental, and physical sciences; nuclear and engineering technologies; applied mathematics; and advanced energy systems.--Jennifer Ball

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