Chevron, Hornets grant provides STEM lab

09 28, 2012 by St. Tammany News

The official ribbon cutting and dedication of the new STEM lab at Fontainebleau High School for science, technology, education and math was held Tuesday morning with officials from the school board, school, Chevron and New Orleans Hornets on hand for the festivities.

Among those attending were School Board Member Roanne Tipton, Superintendent W. L. “Trey” Folse, III, Hornets player Jason Smith, Hornets play-by-play announcer Sean Kelley, and Jean-Paul Dardenne and Karen Rawls with Chevron.

Fontainebleau High School won a $10,000 Chevron and New Orleans Hornets Math and Science Resource Center Grant in April to build the special laboratory for student research and presentation in the four key areas of STEM.

“The new opportunities provided by this classroom will insure our students a powerful and close-up experience with STEM research, helping them make career choices, have fun learning, and work together as teams on a wide variety of projects,” said Folse. “We certainly appreciate Chevron and the New Orleans Hornets connecting with our public school community in this way, extending our reach in this important area of our childrens’ futures.”

Kelley said Chevron and the Hornets have partnered on many different projects and the academic enhancing programs on the Northshore have been key accomplishments. Bringing the STEM Lab state-of-the-art technology and career-enhancing learning experiences to Fontainebleau will be one of the most positive impacts on the community, he said.

Principal Johnny Vitrano thanked Chevron and the Hornets for their vision and resources provided to the school that will help students conduct high-level research in a number of areas. The specific purpose of the Fontainebleau High research lab is to increase student achievement in math and science, said Vitrano, as well as to increase interest in other STEM courses and careers by offering more engaging, project-based and inquiry-based learning into the school’s instructional efforts. “We are proud to have this new facility for our students,” he said.

Rawls said the lab will enable students to explore math, science, technology and engineering as well as their own career interests. “Chevron is proud to be a part of that journey,” she said.

“It will become a cornerstone in our District,” said teacher Tracy Hoffman. Karen Mathews added, “Through our sponsors our vision to move students forward into the real world of STEM opportunities has been made real.” The facility will encourage interest in STEM careers among high school, junior high, and middle school students. STEM education is at the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy.

Included in the new lab are tools such as various computer software programs, applications and engineering kits. The Chevron Resource Center will feature new laptops and an interactive whiteboard, a large interactive display that connects to computers and projectors. The whiteboard is a surface onto which a computer screen can be displayed by a projector. It’s touch-sensitive and allows teachers to use a pen to act like a mouse. Everything that can be displayed on a computer can be projected onto the whiteboard, including using multimedia resources for lessons.

Community outreach efforts are also a part of the project, sharing the activities with middle and junior high schools that provide students to Fontainebleau High.

Using the “STEM-Up™ model,” a comprehensive program of interrelated activities, the school hopes to engage students, parents, teachers and community-based organizations with hands-on activities, role models and information about career opportunities in STEM.

“Our partnership with Chevron has always allowed us to make an impact in the community and we appreciate all they do for the students in the Greater New Orleans area,” said Owner Tom Benson. “We also partner with Chevron on the Mathmobile, as well as the Mathletes and MVP Programs, and have had the chance to reach thousands of kids of all grade-levels and teach them math skills and the importance of math in their future. This is an initiative that directly impacts students where it the classroom and that is important.”

“At Chevron, we believe that education is key to the economic growth and well-being of the communities where we operate,” said Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit Vice President Warner Williams. “By investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), we enable young people to reach their potential while providing local businesses with an educated talent pool of future professionals.”

Chevron, one of the Hornets’ five Crescent City Champion-level partners, also partners with the Hornets on the Mathletes program which provides students in St. Tammany Parish with incentives to excel academically in the Math curriculum.

Chevron and the Hornets also joined together to refurbish basketball courts in Covington’s Rev. Peter Atkins Park, a cornerstone of the West 30s revitalization plan. The dedication of the new courts were held June 2011, the final action of Candace Watkins as mayor. The courts have provided the city’s youth with a not only a place to play and practice their basketball skills, but it’s also providing a much needed lift to the neighborhood in general.

The corporate partnership of the New Orleans Hornets and Chevron are providing exercise for young people’s minds and bodies in the parish.