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Science blazes trail for local students

Young learners had the opportunity to engage their scientific sensibilities on a self-described “science-museum-on-wheels.”

The Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) brought the TAME Trailblazer trailer to DeQueen Elementary School Monday morning to allow students and teachers to enter, watch and learn various sciences on display.

“Flint Hills are volunteers today. We expect to serve 250 kids,” Claire Jackson, Community Relations Coordinator for Flint Hills Resources Port Arthur, said. “We’ve done this for many years. It’s a neat opportunity for kids to see the sciences.”

Through the support of the Port Arthur Industrial Group and the PAIG Community Advisory Group, TAME was able to present the Trailblazer to nine Port Arthur ISD schools from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9.

Students, teachers and instructors stand inside the 40-foot science-themed trailer of the Trailblazer at DeQueen Elementary. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

Students, teachers and instructors stand inside the 40-foot science-themed trailer of the Trailblazer at DeQueen Elementary. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

“The Port Arthur Independent School District is grateful to TAME and the Port Arthur Industrial Group for sponsoring this event for our young people,” Dr. Mark Porterie, PAISD superintendent, said in a press release.

“This exhibit provides a unique opportunity for our students to experience STEM subjects in everyday situations.”

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects are the primary focus for TAME and its Trailblazer trailer, where students can have an educational and interactive experience with five science-themed exhibits.

Volunteers from PAIG companies help explain these exhibits and their STEM roots to students and teachers.

Brian Armstreet, a Flint Hill employee and TAME volunteer, instructs DeQueen students at one of the science exhibits aboard the trailer. (Lorenzo Salinas/ The News)

Brian Armstreet, a Flint Hill employee and TAME volunteer, instructs DeQueen students at one of the science exhibits aboard the trailer. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

“Over the course of nine days, nearly 100 industry volunteers partnered with PAISD schools to promote STEM concepts and careers to students in fun and engaging ways,” Greg Gentry, PAIG chairman and vice president and general manager of Valero Port Arthur, said in a press release.

“We recognize it’s essential to create enthusiasm early, which is why industry joins together to reach far more students than we could individually.”

Jackson emphasized the convenience that TAME and PAIG offered students and teachers through the Trailblazer trailer. She remarked that the program was brought to the schools and not the other way around.

“They don’t need to leave the school; we bring it to them,” Jackson said. “It’s very hands-on. There are five exhibits inside which kids can touch and operate.”

According to a press release from TAME and PAISD, educational programs like the Trailblazer are meant to motivate students from the third to eighth grades in seeking out STEM careers in fields like energy, space, weather, biotechnology and aerodynamics with an emphasis on underrepresented minorities and female students.