Pellissippi State Community College and Oak Ridge Associated Universities have forged a strong and productive alliance through the years, together working toward a common cause: to promote interest and education in math and science in East Tennessee.
Their partnership has made several math and science competitions possible, and in the process provided an opportunity to recognize the achievements of outstanding middle school, high school and college students who excel in the two disciplines.
“We’re all aware of the visibility that’s being given right now to math and science education at the K-12 level,” said Wayne Stevenson, director of science education programs at Oak Ridge Associated Universities.
ORAU’s donation to the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the college’s Mathematics Department supports the following competitions:
Student Math League and Math Bowl. Seventy-one Pellissippi State math students competed in October against other community colleges in the Student Math League, sponsored by the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. Then, approximately 100 students competed in November in the five categories of the Math Bowl, sponsored by the Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.
“This allows an opportunity for students to participate in something outside a classroom,” said Bobby Jackson, associate professor of Math at Pellissippi State and organizer of the college-level competitions. “It gets them interested in math and eventually interested in areas such as science and engineering, which is what we want.”
Middle School Math Bowl. Younger students are competing, too. More than 550 middle-schoolers came to Pellissippi State for the 10th annual Middle School Math Bowl last spring. The ORAU-sponsored event consisted of a challenging exam designed by Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of Mathematics at Pellissippi State, in collaboration with educators at other schools across Tennessee.
Tennessee Science Bowl. Pellissippi State provides the facilities, and ORAU is a major donor. The one-day statewide competition covers several disciplines: astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, general science, mathematics and physics.
The winning team is awarded a $1,000 cash prize on behalf of the school, a first-place trophy and an all-expense-paid trip to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C. Cash prizes also are awarded to the runners-up. Major sponsors also include DOE’s Office of Science, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, and the Knoxville News Sentinel.
“Pellissippi State is an important institution of higher education in the area,” Stevenson said. “Forty-seven percent of all undergraduates enrolled in math courses are enrolled in two-year institutions. What that means is that community colleges are really playing an important role. We hope to continue to support Pellissippi State in the math competition and in other ways.”
“Pellissippi State is committed to providing the best opportunities for our students, and for the community as well,” said Pellissippi State President Allen Edwards. “We are grateful to ORAU for its generous gifts to our college.”