STEM Learning at Oak Ridge

Science Department Chair Analice Sowell led her Materials Science students to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Nissan's North American assembly plant in November. This was Mrs. Sowell's fifth annual trip to ORNL – one of her very favorite places to visit. Lower School Principal Loyal Murphy and History Department Chair Jonathan Jones accompanied Sowell and the 21 students. They kicked off the trip with a tour of the American Museum of Science & Energy, also in Oak Ridge, before heading on to ORNL and finally to Nissan in Smyrna.
The boys experienced firsthand how electrostatic charge transfers via contact with the Van de Graaff generator, examined a drivable 3-D printed Shelby Cobra and other objects created through advanced additive manufacturing, and saw Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer. Sowell noted that their visit coincided with the 76th anniversary of the ORNL graphite reactor first producing a self-sustaining chemical reaction.
Witnessing the high-level research applications of concepts they are studying provided an invaluable opportunity to envision what science makes possible, she said.
“A visit to Oak Ridge is not really work in my book,” Sowell said. “If you have heard how much I ‘nerd out' while we are there, believe every word. I really enjoy sharing these places with our students. From the rich history in nuclear science that started ORNL to the redirection of research into materials examination and characterization post World War II, as well as the real-time manufacturing that we saw at Nissan, it was an amazing and memorable trip.”