Orangefield educators using Indorama grant to benefit STEAM learning

Published 12:30 am Friday, May 20, 2022

ORANGEFIELD — Educators Denise Batchelor and coach Conner Wilbur want science education to feel more real for their Orangefield High School students.

To do so, they applied for an Indorama STEAM Innovation Grant in hopes of implementing the idea in their science classrooms.

They want integrate microscope technology with tablet computers to support student learning through imagery.

The teachers plan to use the technology this fall to support academic coursework in environmental and biological studies with a visual learning aid.

That takes money, which is where the grant comes into play.

Pictured, from left, are Rea Wrinkle, Denise Batchelor, Conner Wilbur and Kimberly Hoyt. (Shari Hardin/Special to The Leader)

The request paid off this week when Kimberly Hoyt, site director of Indorama’s Port Neches operations, made a surprise visit this week present a $3,000 check to the two STEM educators.

The plan now is to introduce the education upgrade to science classrooms during the 2022-23 school year.

Batchelor and Wilbur were appreciative of the grant win and the surprise visit from Indorama.

Speaking for Indorama, Hoyt said this is a great opportunity to impact Southeast Texas through our continued work with local school districts through STEAM education curriculum.

“Indorama is happy to be carrying on the grant program that began several years ago,” she said.

As a chemical company working with integrated oxides and derivatives, Indorama has a vested interest in STEAM education in its surrounding communities, she added.

Several decades ago, the importance of STEM in K-12 education was highlighted by industry professionals and educators alike. There was a concern that U.S. students lacked the necessary skills to compete in a global technology-based economy.

Orangefield High School

STEAM adds the “arts” to the knowledge push. Competency in the arts has proven to essential to the STEM push.

Indorama’s support of STEAM education in the region helps assist Southeast Texas school districts and prepares students for the 21st-century technology-based economy.

Research has shown that STEAM, Science Technology Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics disciplines are central to Southeast Texas industries. The concentrated industries that dominate the economy of Southeast Texas are centered around chemical and petroleum-based products.

Indorama Ventures is also inviting the community to enjoy the inaugural Fish-O-Rama fishing tournament July 30 at Port Neches Park. Thanks to a partnership with Beaumont Children’s Museum, the tournament will assist with fundraising for STEAM education and programming in Southeast Texas.

— By Shari Hardin