Chevron gives $125K to math, science program

Mesa County high school students next year will be able to tackle issues surrounding new-energy technology under the auspices of the John McConnell Math and Science Center of Western Colorado.

The center will have a $125,000 grant from Chevron to take on the project, one of two such efforts funded by the energy giant in North America.

Chevron and the math and science center announced the grant Wednesday.

The center will recruit the first youth policy class this fall, and the program will begin early in 2011.

Students from District 51 junior high and high schools, De Beque High School, private and charter schools and home-schooled students are eligible.

“For an organization like ours, this is truly major,” Teresa Coons, executive director of the center, said Wednesday.

The Chevron grant is one of the largest ever received by the center, which was founded in 2000, Coons said. More than 68,000 students on scheduled field trips and many families have visited the center in its decade of existence.

The grant will “allow us to work with young adults on current science-based issues that enlist and build their critical thinking skills,” Coons said.

Chevron makes grants in areas in which the company is active, said Michael DeBerry, Rocky Mountain area manager for the company. He said the program is in line with Chevron’s interest in improving students’ science, technology, engineering and math skills.

“Equally important is developing their capabilities in critical thinking, evaluation, negotiation and conflict resolution,” DeBerry said, “all of which are essential to making informed decisions about critical issues of our time.”

The grant, which will come in the form of a one-time payment, will have long-lasting effects, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association Executive Director David Ludlam said.

“Chevron understands that meeting tomorrow’s energy needs means investing in today’s young minds in the communities where they do business,” Ludlam said. “Dr. Coons and her team do great work for a great organization, and western Colorado’s future energy sector will be better because of it.”

Students will hear speakers on energy topics, conduct research, take field trips, debate with one another and make presentations. Some of the presentations by experts and students will be open to the public.

The final product will be a group consensus statement that represents a policy position from the youth group.

Applications will be available the first week in November at the center, 2660 Unaweep Ave., or may be downloaded from the center’s website, http://www.mathandsciencecenter.org.


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