Bearden seniors work on West Knox traffic flow through STEM program


Annie Smith

Seniors Olivia Johnson, MacKenzie Goff, and Michelle Lames (left to right) work on their STEM project after school in the library.

Several Bearden students are participating in a new STEM program being offered for seniors.

Students work alongside college professors to apply STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to solve various everyday issues.

Math teacher Mr. Richard Robinson began this program as a way for students to experience STEM research in the context of real-world problems. Most of these students are currently working on a project based on modeling traffic flow on Kingston Pike near West Town Mall.

“It is a fairly complicated problem,” Mr. Robinson said. “It seems like it’s been really interesting so far.”

Senior Olivia Johnson became involved in the program through a friend and has been playing her part to help optimize light timing at the Kingston Pike intersection.

“During my college application process, I knew that STEM was nationally recognized, and having a STEM certificate is great for exploring engineering, science, or math degrees,” she said.

Johnson worked alongside two University of Tennessee professors and learned how to use NETLOGO, an online coding website.

Senior Morgan Jenkins heard about the program through Mr. Robinson and became interested. She enjoys the traffic project because it helps her prepare for a future in a STEM profession.

Mr. Robinson says he is excited about the program because Bearden, along with Oak Ridge High School, is one of the few schools in the area to establish a method of research such as this.

Since the addition of the STEM program, new classes are offered at Bearden such as a computer science class.

Robinson says administrators such as principal Dr. John Bartlett and Mrs. Beverly Anderson from guidance have given up time to assist the program, along with many math and science teachers.

Senior Bailey Kitts is participating by working on her own project to determine the effectiveness of Roundup Weed Killer on certain plants. Her STEM practice could be helpful for her future medical career.

“I did the STEM program because I wanted experience in a college laboratory,” she said.

With the STEM program, it’s clear that Bearden is continuing to make leaps toward preparing students for successful futures.