Huntsman presents STEM Innovation Grants to local schools

Huntsman Port Neches Operations (PNO) awarded six winning 2017 STEM Innovation Grant teacher recipients with surprise in-class visits Wednesday, May 17.

During school hours, PNO team members stopped by Port Neches-Groves, Nederland and Bridge City middle and high schools with balloons and treats and giant checks to signify the awards.

In its second year, the Huntsman STEM Innovation Grant recognizes teachers educating young minds in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. Six $1,000 grants were awarded to one middle school and high school teacher from each district to be used for professional development or classroom supplies.

“In 2016, we chose just the Port Neches-Groves Independent School District. We gave two STEM Innovation Grant awards. This year, we expanded it to six awards,” said Site Director of Huntsman PNO Operations Chad Anderson. “This is supporting our community through STEM Innovation Grants. This is to further the education in these areas and we prepare our future employees for Huntsman.”

“There’s an online application. Teachers go in and fill it out. It can be used for equipment. It can be used for personal education if there’s some sort of conference that teachers want to go to,” explained Huntsman spokesperson Krystal Hewitt Patout.

C.O. Middle School (Nederland) teacher Charles Kirk received a grant to introduce 3D printing to the classroom in order to aid students in conceptualizing designs through the stages of development. Kirk believes his project will generate excitement among students and compliment his existing STEM curriculum by allowing them to experience the model stage of the design process.

Nederland High School teacher Catherine Baker will use her grant to buy 10 TI Innovator Hubs and Accessory Packs to compliment the TINspire calculators currently used by the math department. These items will allow the students to better understand how tables are created using data collection sensors, such as temperature gages and motion detection sensors, to explore “real-world” applications of mathematics.

Bridge City High School teacher Donna Schrock will purchase Vernier Lab Quest 2 data collectors to enhance the laboratory experience in the classroom, reinforcing graphing and analyzing data as an essential component of the learning process. The data collectors, which wirelessly transfer data to mobile devices, will show students how technology can be used in the laboratory to make data collection more accurate and easier to analyze.

Bridge City Middle School teacher Susan Ellis is going to increase the number of robotics kits available to students in order to encourage hands-on learning and critical thinking, which can be transferred into any number of contexts. Students will experience the programs to accomplish a specific task.

Port Neches Middle School teacher Crystal Storms will use the grant to purchase computer science workbooks for her students in order to encourage an increased interest in technology and the careers associated with computer programming. Students will learn how to develop their own simple computer game, and how programmers work to create the code used in the applications and video games they play and use on a regular basis.

Port Neches – Groves High School chemistry teacher Sheri Furby will use the grant to initiate a method of student collaboration and critical thinking in chemistry with break out boxes — a new idea that allows students to cooperatively solve problems to “unlock” a series of questions that lead to ultimately solving the main problem. This product will help chemistry students gain a better knowledge of real world problem solving, mimicking real life situations that students could encounter in the work force.

“Science is so hard for some students and any way that we can get interest and understanding to make it fun, then that’s my goal,” Furby said. “This is just another way for me to reach out to the students.”

Photo by Kevin King - Port Neches – Groves High School chemistry teacher Sheri Furby, Site Director of Huntsman PNO Operations Chad Anderson and Senior Manager of Manufacturing Excellence at Huntsman Kim Hoyt