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Science education key to environmental restoration

July 22, 1996 Share This!

SEATTLE, Wash. – Leaders in innovative environmental education are preparing the next generation of professionals. Some of these educators and industry experts will share their approaches at Spectrum 96, the international conference on nuclear and hazardous waste management being held in Seattle, August 18-23.

An environmental education panel, teacher workshop and student demonstrations will help define the current status of science and engineering education and highlight the needs of industries that will hire people to work in environmental restoration.

"To successfully address the nation's environmental problems, we need young people," said Clyde Frank, deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Energy's Office of Science and Technology. "We need students to be well trained and to ensure that a good number of them develop a passion for scientific disciplines that will lead them to a meaningful career in environmental science and cleanup," he said. "The private sector and government, working together, can do this by assisting young students as they begin to explore and discover the world of science," Frank added.

The Spectrum 96 education panel will feature leaders of educational institutions, industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The panel will be led by Tyrus Cobb, president of the Yosemite National Institute. Members will discuss the approach being taken by educational institutions in the United States to prepare and sustain environmental professionals from the primary/secondary, community college and university programs' perspectives.

"The key is to spark students interest enough to motivate them to question, read and learn on their own rather than teaching students everything about science," said Lori Juhl, a community college teacher from Idaho. Juhl is working under a National Science Foundation grant to change the way chemistry is taught to college students and will lead the Spectrum 96 teachers' workshop. "A teacher's mission is to move students away from the textbook and classroom into the field and to use relevant issues and questions in teaching science."

Spectrum 96 attendees also will hear from students themselves, as a number of inner city and rural high schools will present environmental projects in a science fair format. Some of these students come from schools which traditionally have low scores in math and science and the students may face other disadvantages for pursuing an environmental career. Student demonstrations include environmental monitoring, aquaculture and a project to transfer energy from industrial wastewater to heat a greenhouse.

"We need to take a more integrated approach for solving environmental problems," says Ann Lesperance, Spectrum 96 education co-coordinator. "And having educators and students work directly with industry is a great way to ensure the next generation is well equipped for environmental careers."

Spectrum 96 is the 6th biennial conference co-sponsored by the American Nuclear Society and DOE. Additional sponsors are the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Nuclear Society, the European Commission, the Chinese Nuclear Society, the U.S. Department of Commerce regional office, the Washington State Department of Trade and Economic Development and the British Columbia Trade Development Corporation.

For registration and more information on Spectrum 96, access our World Wide Web site at http://www.hanford.gov/ans/s96home.html.

Tags: Energy, Fundamental Science, Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Chemistry, Economic Development

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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