In its support of STEM education and preparing students for the region’s high-demand jobs, Chevron believes that that work doesn’t end with the school year.
This summer, the national energy giant, which has regional headquarters in Moon Township, Allegheny County, funded a series of educational programs in area school districts to help slow the “summer slide” and expose students to areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through innovative technology.
The Innovation summer series consisted of four week-long camps hosted by the Intermediate Unit 1 for students entering grades 3-8 this fall.
Programs were held in the Southeastern Greene and Frazier school districts in June and Brownsville Area School District in July. A fourth camp is scheduled in the Belle Vernon Area School District July 29-Aug. 2.
“The camps that were selected to be funded by Chevron were in areas that were really in need of a summer program,” said Sarah D’Urzo, coordinator for innovation and design at IU1. “The goal is to expose the students in these areas to as many things as we can and give them an opportunity that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had.”
Each day of the camp, students rotated through four sessions that explore computer coding and robotics, circuitry and electronics, digital fabrication and maker projects, and rocketry and engineering.
Paityn Stout, 10, of Fairchance, who attended Falcon Camp Innovation at Brownsville Area Middle School, said being introduced to coding has influenced her to want to be an engineer and work with computers when she grows up.
“I think it’s fun because you can program things, and you can code to show other people how to make things,” said Stout, adding that she had previously attended a coding camp and decided to come to Falcon Camp Innovation to learn more about the discipline while exploring robotics in the same week.
Nearby at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, another Chevron-funded summer camp was offered over two separate weeks to high school students to provide hands-on educational STEM programming.
The STEM Career Exploration Camp has been offered at the Fayette campus for seven years and focuses on the practical application of STEM disciplines in everyday life. Over five days, students study a variety of topics and complete interactive activities.
According to Lynne Roy, the campus’ summer youth programs coordinator, the camp has generated repeat visitors who return to attend multiple years, requiring the college to diversify its programming for the camp.
“We’ve had such an interest from students that we change the curriculum every year so we can offer something fresh that will make them want to return,” said Roy. “We want their experience to be different. That will also help their decision in choosing a future career.”
Lee Ann Wainwright, STEM Education Investment Team Lead at Chevron Appalachia, said Chevron regularly examines its education funding for opportunities to provide access to educational programs in communities in need in which Chevron operates.
“For us, it’s going to those communities where we operate to provide access to something that they may not have had access to before.
“If they come to work for Chevron, great,” Wainwright said of the students being reached through the Chevron-funded programming. “But if not, go be a doctor in the towns where we’re operating.”