Donation from BP to cover STEM program

By Burton Speakman


BP is funding a $50,000 initiative to equip Trumbull County teachers with a web-based STEM-education program.

Defined STEM will help 20,000 county students from fourth to 12th grades improve their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, said Robert Marino Jr., assistant superintendent at the Trumbull County Educational Service Center.

It uses problem-based learning techniques and multimedia resources.

The BP donation covers the cost of the licensing software to access Defined STEM in every county classroom.

It also pays the cost of training more than 200 teachers during a two-year period, said Brice Harris, science director for TCESC.

The announcement of the funding was made Wednesday at the service center.

Defined STEM assists county students in meeting the state’s rising educational standards, said Bryan O’Hara, curriculum director for TCESC.

“This is math applied to real-life situations,” he said.

“The curriculum shows them careers they could do in the future.”

One example was in alternative energy, where the program showed all the jobs that go into operating a wind turbine.

“We were looking for ideas to fund this program, and there weren’t a lot of funding options available. It was through the [Youngstown/Warren Regional] Chamber and our P-16 council that put us in contact with BP,” Marino said.

The P-16 council is a group that prepares students for each level of education from preschool through graduation.

“We’re a company of engineers, mathematicians and scientists, and we strongly believe in supporting STEM-education initiatives within the communities where we do business,” said Curtis Thomas, BP’s director of government and public affairs in Ohio.

“Our hope and our wish is for some of these students to come back and work as engineers within the industry.”

In all the lower 48 states, BP tries to find ways to help the communities in which it operates, typically through STEM education, said Joe Uppencue, operations manager for BP.

STEM education is important to every aspect of what goes on during the production of oil and gas, he said.

There are a number of economic opportunities available in the area in addition to shale development.

For the first time in 30 years the Valley may be set for consistent economic growth, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

“Young people can see opportunities right here,” Ryan said.

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