Pontotoc Tech Center Environmental Biotech STEM Academy

Our program is called Environmental Biotechnology
and we also call it a STEM Academy because obviously we do incorporate STEM in all areas.
It is a two year program that we like to get students from high schools–from our partner
schools–to come in in their junior year. The students will also participate in what we
call a capstone project where they do individual research with some mentor. That mentor might
be a college professor, it might be a researcher at our Kerr Water Ground Water Facility, or
even maybe the Noble Foundation. My name is Kay Gamble and I am a STEM instructor here
at Pontotoc Tech. So, this program allows those students who, their schools may not
be able to offer them some of the higher level science courses, they may not have the equipment,
they may not have the expertise. It offers them a real boost up. It gives them an opportunity
to find out what their passions are in science. And then will really push them forward into
college in such a way that they will be so much better equipped to handle the rigor of
college education and be ahead of the crowd. I’m Savanna Weaselbear and I am from Latta.
At the high school that I’m at they don’t have that much equipment there that is really
good like it is here. And there is so much newer stuff here. Biotechnology is the wave
of the future, it is the here and now, but it is also our future. The pieces of equipment
and the facilities that we need in order to teach biotechnology to our students requires
a tremendous amount of high tech equipment. That’s why the funding from EPSCoR is so very
important to us because none of this would be possible at a high school level without
a tremendous amount of funding. Our goal is for all of our students to go on and attend
college and, most likely, major in some type of science field. These students may quite
likely, many of them, will be the first year, the first person in their family to actually
attend and graduate from college. The opportunity to help build a program, a brand new program,
that’s exciting.

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