Appalachian Power hosts W.Va teachers for STEMersion experience

WINFIELD, W.Va. July 27, 2016 -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are key skills needed in today's workplace.

A group of teachers from West Virginia pose at the John E. Amos Power Plant visitor center, prior to a tour of the plant. The teachers were part of STEMersion, a one-week professional development experience that included immersion at top STEM businesses in the Kanawha Valley.  

That message was the motivation for 25 middle and high school science, technology and math teachers that received a professional development experience called STEMersion.

An initiative of BridgeValley Community & Technical College (BVCTC), The Education Alliance and the West Virginia Manufacturing Association, the one-week professional development experience for teachers includes immersion at top STEM businesses in the Kanawha Valley.

On June 28, Appalachian Power participated in the event as teachers visited the John E. Amos Power Plant in Winfield. During the site visit, participants experienced firsthand the types of knowledge and skills required for the ever-increasing STEM-related careers in the state. The tour included visits to the plant floor and talks with company leaders in generation, transmission and distribution.

Teachers that took part in the activities said they found the day very insightful.

“It made me understand what they have to go through to get our power to our homes,” said Teresa Swanson, a teacher at Elkview Middle School. “It also made me realize what they have to do to get back on when it goes out.”

Swanson said many students may not be college bound. But she said the STEMersion experience gives her tools to help certain students to ensure they get proper job training.

“They may not want to go to college, but they are good with their hands,” Swanson said. “I can now go back to them and say it’s OK to not go to college, but you still need training get in a job with advancement and have a long career.”

Michelle Smith, a counselor at Dunbar Middle School, said she was fascinated by how Appalachian Power has advanced over the years – particularly with electric meters.

“They were showing us different meters and how they have progressed from these big bulky things to smaller ones that are so cool,” Smith said.

Smith said the day also gave her a newfound gratitude of line workers.

“Putting on all that equipment, I mean, that stuff is heavy,” Smith said. “I have much appreciation for all the things they have to go through.”

Dr. Amelia Courts, president and chief executive officer of The Education Alliance, said the STEMersion program is paramount for area teachers.

“The Education Alliance was pleased to offer the STEMersion teacher professional development opportunity in collaboration with our partners,” Courts said.

“Research shows the more hands-on the opportunities are, the more teachers learn. The STEMersion project did just that by connecting STEM-centered businesses with educators who are eager to make real-word applications. Ninety-eight percent of participating teachers rated the training as ‘very good or excellent’ and we look forward to seeing the innovative ways teachers implement STEMersion in their classrooms with students.”

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