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Alcoa gives Clarkson University $120,000 grant for Mytholympics

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POTSDAM — A Clarkson University program that uses competition and curiosity to bring math, science and technology into area high schools has received a boost from the Alcoa Foundation.

The foundation gave a $120,000 grant to Clarkson for its Mytholympic Games outreach program.

“Alcoa has a strong interest in STEM-related careers and professionals within these areas for their manufacturing facilities,” said Shane W. Rogers, an assistant professor in Clarkson’s civil and environmental engineering program. “There is a shortage in the north country, like there is in most of the U.S. We’ve heard about importing STEM-related majors from elsewhere in the United States. They have a strong interest in driving students into these types of careers so they have a work force in the future.”

STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and math, have been targeted by recent education initiatives on the state and federal level.

The Mytholympic Games will involve groups at eight area high schools, giving them a myth to study, test and prove — or disprove.

“The idea for the Mytholympics program is to engage academically strong students in STEM-related activities and encourage their development into college and pursue their STEM-related careers,” Mr. Rogers said.

The five-student teams will work on their myths throughout the year, said Mr. Rogers, and eventually come to Clarkson’s campus for competition.

“During the course of the school year, students will address the myth and put together a video presentation to demonstrate the methods that they used and what the result of their study was — whether the myth was confirmed or busted — and then present that at Clarkson at the end of the academic school year,” he said. “We’re working on organizing a small camp or at least some time on campus where students will come in and present their myth results.”

The winners will get a boost toward their education — $4,000 annual scholarships to Clarkson.

“The students that participate in this Mytholympics program will be given a $1,000 scholarship to come to Clarkson,” Mr. Rogers said. “The student group that wins the competition will receive $4,000 a year to attend Clarkson.”

“Students that are academically strong oftentimes are overlooked within public school programs because teachers need to focus their very limited resources on making sure students can pass the Regents exams,” he said. “This program is actually made to re-engage these students in activities that encourage their development and interest in STEM programming and interest in professional careers.”

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