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The Lab’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team assisted several events and led site tours of NETL-Morgantown throughout the month of January. The team also attended events surrounding the integration of technology into education in order to understand how the process of learning will change in an increasingly technology-dependent world. Additionally, representatives from the Lab’s STEM Ambassador program, which seeks to bridge the gap between students and researchers at NETL, shared information with students about the Lab’s capabilities at gatherings and competitions throughout the month to give insight into pursuing a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career path.
Hands on Minds on
On a brisk winter morning, teachers Jill Jakub and Kelly Bandik spoke in warm, glowing terms about the strong partnership between their school and NETL. The second-grade teachers at Clara Barton Elementary, part of the West Mifflin Area School District, praised NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team for helping them infuse lessons with hands-on approaches that open young minds and make it fun and exciting to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics. “Children, especially in early grade levels, learn better when they are engaged, working with their hands, even moving about in the classroom,” said Jakub. “NETL has provided us with a lot of opportunities, ideas and resources to develop and lead lessons that use this approach.”
WVSB Winners
The West Virginia Science Bowl tested students’ knowledge of math and science with round-robin and double-elimination competition rounds. Middle school teams competed Friday, followed by high school students on Saturday. This year’s West Virginia competition included welcoming remarks from Congressman David McKinley, as well as representatives from NETL and WVU. Participants also explored hands-on engineering activities and an academic information fair from institutions around the state. Coming in at second, third and fourth place were George Washington High School 1, Charleston, WV, Morgantown High School 2, Morgantown, WV, George Washington High School 2, Charleston, WV, respectively. In the middle school division, second, third and fourth place were awarded to St. Francis de Sales Central 1, Western, WV, Triadelphia 1, Triadelphia, WV, and Suncrest 2, Morgantown, WV, respectively.
Kinsey Walker
As NETL’s new STEM education and outreach specialist, dedicated to boosting the Lab’s community impact and improve educational outcomes in West Virginia, Kinsey Walker aims to expand student participation in this vitally important subset across the state through unity among program providers. A native of South Charleston, Walker attended the College of Wooster in rural Ohio before pursuing her master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee to study public policy and education. Before joining NETL, she worked as a classroom instructor, teaching kindergarten through fifth grade and later grades 5-8. She also worked as an adjunct professor teaching courses in social science, chemistry, biology, engineering, and computer science majors at the University of Charleston. In addition to teaching, she helped establish teams that created operation structures and staff at new schools in Tennessee and Mississippi. This position is dedicated to ensuring the school’s day-to-day workings run smoothly so administrators can focus on school culture and curriculum.
How do research breakthroughs and innovations create economic and workforce opportunities on the regional and national scale? This is the focus of the NETL Regional Workforce Initiative Energy 101 webinar series. The NETL RWFI Energy 101 Series provides a basic primer on the research conducted at NETL, including the challenges and potential economic and workforce opportunities that successful research into these topics, along with their related challenges may bring to the region and the nation. NETL researchers present information on their work in an easy to follow and easy to communicate fashion. This month we look at ongoing NETL research into sensors and controls. The Sensors and Controls program improves fossil energy power generation through sensors, distributed intelligent control systems, and increased security. Advanced sensors and controls provide pivotal insights into optimizing plant performance while also increasing plant reliability and availability.
NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team provided support services during three West Virginia Regional Science Bowl (WVSB) Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) qualifying competitions in December. The competitions determined which middle and high school teams will compete in the main WVSB event, to be held Feb. 8-9 at West Virginia University in Morgantown. The winning teams from the WVSB will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the annual National Science Bowl in April. During Science Bowl competitions, middle and high school students compete as teams in an action-packed quiz bowl format to answer questions on science, math and engineering. The events test students’ science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge while promoting and demonstrating the value of science and technology in education.
During his career with NETL, U.S. Army veteran Jimmy Thornton has worked tirelessly to advance new technology development for Fossil Energy (FE), and that remains true today with current efforts to investigate uses for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for FE technology development. Born in Kentucky and growing up in Campbells Creek, Thornton joined the U.S. Army at the encouragement of his high school baseball coach who was an Army Reserve drill instructor. Trained as an infantryman and entering service in early 1983, Thornton was stationed in Germany, where he completed French Commando School in Givet, France. Leaving active service in 1987, Thornton joined the Kentucky National Guard while studying at Eastern Kentucky University, and he later transferred to the West Virginia National Guard after accepting a professional internship with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Morgantown in 1988. Commissioned as an officer in 1992, he served with the 201st Field Artillery and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
FOA Logo
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have announced up to $20 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Extreme Environment Materials for Power Generation The projects will support FE’s Crosscutting Research program , which has a unique ability to identify needs and foster technology development across many applications. The projects will target material challenges that apply to both coal- and gas-based steam cycle components. By focusing on both new and existing applications, the program is intended to improve cost, performance, and reliability of fossil power generation and also enhance the competitiveness of the Nation’s high-temperature materials supply chain in the global marketplace.
NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team engaged students during several day-long visits at area elementary schools, conducted an educational energy workshop for teachers, assisted in a cybersecurity competition and aided two preliminary West Virginia Science Bowl (WVSB) regional qualifying events in November. The team’s efforts to promote the value of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education across several platforms each month generates interest in STEM topics and provides opportunities for the next generation of scientists, problem-solvers and critical thinkers. WVSB Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) Areas I-IV Regional Competitions (Institute, West Virginia; Athens, West Virginia) – The K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team provided support services to local RESA area Science Bowl coordinators at several WVSB qualifying competitions Nov. 1 and Nov. 16. The events serve as the WVSB preliminary competition to qualify teams from former RESA areas I-IV for the 2020 WVSB high school regional tournament. The events were held at West Virginia State University and Concord University.
Energy Conversion systems
From developing energy conversion systems that use abundant fossil energy resources to produce power, fuels and chemicals, to developing and using advanced energy analysis models to support decision-making, NETL continues to aggressively pursue its mission to discover, integrate and mature technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. NETL researchers had a productive year, underscored by forward-looking innovation and technology development. Here’s a look at a few of our leading-edge successes from 2019. Moving Advanced Sensors toward Commercialization An NETL-developed sensing technology designed to enable more flexible operation of gas-fired power plants advanced toward commercialization as part of a partnership with turbine manufacturer Solar Turbines Incorporated.