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This month, NETL is calling specific attention to the importance of STEM studies by highlighting some examples of how deeply committed NETL people are to helping young people find their “STEM spark.”
NETL Works to Ignite “Sparks” that Inspire STEM Studies by American Youth

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

Education study groups have defined “sparks” as “interests or passions that light a fire in a person’s life. Spark expresses the core of who a person is and how they want to engage with the world around them. Sparks bring joy and hope.”

All year every year, NETL recognizes the importance of those “sparks” by supporting and encouraging young people to further their interest in and study of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects in a wide range of activities both within the Laboratory and externally in our communities. 

This month, we’re taking special steps to call specific attention to the importance of STEM studies by highlighting some examples of how deeply committed NETL people are to helping young people find their “STEM spark.” On our media platforms, through videos and articles, visitors will learn about:

  • How NETL collaborated with education leaders in West Virginia and at the Columbus, Ohio-based Center of Science and Industry (COSI) to create and distribute “Learning Lunchboxes” that include materials and a guide to complete five engaging hands-on STEM-related activities.
  • NETL research associate Abhishek Venketeswaran and mentor Ruishu Wright are applying new concepts to the energy sector while fostering the careers of tomorrow’s STEM specialists.  

We’re also sharing fascinating stories about how some of our key researchers found their own “spark”: 

  • Jennifer Bauer, a geo-data scientist whose 5th grade STEM project sparked a lifelong interest in science and problem solving that led to her research on important energy questions.
  • Natalie Pekney, who discovered her “spark” growing up on a farm in Mercer County, Pennsylvania and pursued her goal of working on energy and environmental problems as part of her research work at NETL.
  • Michael Buric who, at age 11, built a 250,000-volt Tesla coil and harnessed his passion to pursue an ambitious aggressive portfolio of energy research.  

While we use February to highlight STEM activities, our commitment to the goal of igniting “sparks” in future researchers is a non-stop proposition.