Port Arthur Industrial Group brings STEM-based Science Museum to 1,800 elementary students

Through the support of the Port Arthur Industrial Group (PAIG), which includes Port Arthur refineries and petrochemical companies, along with the PAIG Community Advisory Group, the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) showcased the TAME Trailblazer at nine Port Arthur ISD schools from Jan. 29 to Feb. 9.

The TAME Trailblazer offers a unique perspective on learning by bringing students and teachers out of the classroom and into a “science museum on wheels.” This 40-foot trailer containing hands-on exhibits is designed to help students learn interactively about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Volunteers from PAIG companies facilitate the exhibits and relay how the STEM subjects can lead to careers focusing on energy, space, weather, biotechnology and aerodynamics. Teachers receive pre-visit activities and follow-up materials to sustain student interest long after the Trailblazer drives off campus.

“As the baby boomer generation moves closer to retirement, the demand for careers in STEM will grow. Education partners like TAME make learning fun and provide an opportunity to engage with professionals in the local industry,” said Mike Nemeth, chairman of PAIG and site manager of Chevron Phillips Chemical Port Arthur.

Southeast Texas is home to one of the country’s largest oil and gas workforces, where most jobs involve STEM subjects. TAME provides programs like the Trailblazer to inspire youth in the third through eighth grades to pursue STEM careers with a focus on underrepresented minority and female students.

“The Port Arthur Independent School District is excited to have the TAME Trailblazer visit our schools. This experience teaches our students how STEM subjects are applied in everyday situations, said Dr. Mark Porterie, superintendent of Port Arthur Independent School District. “PAISD is grateful to TAME and the Port Arthur Industrial Group for sponsoring this event for our young people.”

The PAIG Community Advisory Group was formed in 2001 as a progressive collaboration between Port Arthur’s refining and petrochemical companies and local community leaders, and has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the best business and community leader collaborations in the country. One of the advisory group’s focus areas is education. Since 2003, PAIG has offered over $90,000 in scholarships each year to Port Arthur students in need of financial support to pursue STEM-related degrees at institutions such as Lamar University, Lamar Institute of Technology and Lamar State College Port Arthur. PAIG member companies include Air Products, BASF Total Petrochemicals, Chevron Phillips, Flint Hills Resources, Motiva, Oxbow Calcining, Port Arthur Stream and Energy, Praxair, Total, Valero and Veolia.

TAME is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps prepare Texas Students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math by providing K-12 students, parents and teachers with STEM-related programs and resources. Working statewide, TAME promotes diversity in STEM careers through the focused recruitment of women and minorities often underrepresented in STEM fields.

For more information, e-mail programs@tame.org, call (512) 471-6100, or visit the TAME website at www.tame.org.

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