Greater Oregon STEM Mission
A regional partnership cultivating a community that values STEM learning, prepares youth for successful STEM careers, and builds pathways and pipelines to meet workforce needs.

Realize regional prosperity through a thriving STEM workforce and career‐ready rural youth.










The Scully Effect

Have you ever seen the TV show, The X Files? According to surveys only 3% of the US population has ever seen this sci-fi/mystery show that explores the pseudo scientific, bizarre stories of extraterrestrials, otherwise goofy unbelievable plots. Of that 3% who watch only about a third are women.

What researchers find interesting is how the viewers see one of the main characters in the weekly series, Dana Scully.  Scully is a medical doctor and scientist and FBI agent assigned to the cases to make sure the male lead, Fox Mulder, isn’t making things up.  It is her FBI responsibility to check Mulder’s work and to verify their observations. She is a keen observer and a skeptic, drawing conclusions that are logical and scientific.

The researchers asked young women who viewed the  X Files to comment on their impression of Scully’s character and her role as a STEM professional.  What they found was startling. Media may have as much or more impact on young women in their choice of a career field than other influences. Movies and television may have powerful influence in encouraging young women to consider STEM occupations.  Read the whole article at: https://impact.21cf.com/sites/default/files/ScullyEffectReport_21CF_1.pdf





STEM Week Oregon, May 5th – May 13th 2018

May 5th through the 13th is STEM Week Oregon 2018

See STEM Week Resources  for GOSTEM videos and activities and for State of Oregon information: http://stemoregon.org/stemweek2018/




A River Greenway: A Community STEM Project

The Grande Ronde River once meandered through the large horst graben Grande Ronde Valley  in north east Oregon with oxbows much like that of the current path of Catherine Creek ( See the above photo).   In the late 1860’s a large loop of the Grande Ronde River was ditched to drain land for agriculture and to protect some residential and business developments from seasonal flooding.  To assist in logging, river was also dammed to the west, filled with floating logs and then each spring the dams would be exploded so logs would careen down the river gouging everything in their path. During the mid 20th century and up until the 1980’s the ditch or canal was mined for its sand and gravel.  As the years passed the canal deepened from the effects of mining causing steep banks and the need for reinforcements on the margins. For many years the river seemed sterile–a causeway for commerce.

Even though assailed by progress and abuse, the river survived.  With the advent of protective inland waters legislation the river has started to recover showing a great deal of beauty and aesthetic appeal.  Wildlife clings to the riparian areas along its banks and fishermen and hikers enjoy poking about on the margins. Riverside Park, in La Grande, borders the river to the west. The city has installed a short trail section near the river and a bridge that allows walkers and bikers to enjoy the vista from mid stream. Island City, about a mile down river to the east, plans to create another park similar to Riverside and to connect their park to La Grande’s with a Greenway.  City and county officials have secured some funds to pay for infrastructure and have drawn-up ideas about how the trail might hug the river from La Grande to Island City. How then is this a Community STEM challenge you might ask?

The Grand Ronde River, like any waterway, is a natural ecosystem that can be impacted by human intervention. Aquatic creatures and the riparian areas can be altered, damaged, or ruined. Understanding the science of the river system, the plants and animals, the water ebb and flow, and the riparian ecosystem becomes a critical part of understanding the river and concern for a human pathway.  Impact analyses, reports and permits are required to assess the scientific impact of the project.

Engineers examined the planned route and then calculated the amount and kind of fill necessary, the make-up of the potential project bridge, and the composition and preparation for the path itself. The engineers alone could not conduct this work without considering the aesthetics, safety, legality, and utility of their design. Engineers must also consider the kind of materials and different technology available to solve specific problems: Whether to use metal netting to contain bank stabilizing riprap, the materials to be considered for a bridge and the long-term considerations for maintenance, and whether pre-fabricated, elevated concrete walkways may solve certain problems when placing the trail near the water.

Finally, the Greenway committee had to deal with the overall applied mathematics of the project. What were the features of each option and how would the committee recommend one route over another?  Surveys, rating systems, and statistical analyses were required to help bring the best solution forward. And, almost the most important variable, what were the costs associated with the project?  Careful prediction of cost per square foot of trail and each additional feature required had to be computed.

Of course, the STEM disciplines only provided the background facts.  The city, county and State officials and landowners still have to consider property owners, easements, land use restrictions, and other technical matters.  The Greenway project is a real example of how STEM professionals inform and shape problem solving within a meaningful context. It is the kind of critical thinking we hope our students will do and the kind of learning we expect as they acquire knowledge and skills in the STEM disciplines.

What are you doing in your classrooms, schools or communities to get students involved with real individual, classroom, school, or community projects?  Tell us your story.  Let’s help each other design meaningful STEM explorations where students can make a difference.

For more stories of people engaged in STEM, see: http://go-stem.org/newsletters/


  • May 1, 2018: EOU Health Speaker Series featuring Dr. Dale Robinson, OB/GYN.Dr. Robinson obtained his medical degree from the University of Chicago. He completed his obstetrics and gynecology residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. After fulfilling his Air Force commitment, he served as Residency Coordinator for the Louisiana State University Obstetrics and Gynecology training program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While at LSU, he lectured nationally for the Osler organization and published 12 articles. Dr. Robinson left academic medicine and has worked at Grande Ronde Hospital for the last 12 years, formerly serving as President of the Medical Staff and Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Robinson has extensive knowledge and experience in the rural practice of obstetrics and gynecology. He also has a passion for helping pre-health students navigate complex career choices and loves to discuss traditional and alternative health careers with them. He answers health career questions at www.prehealthguy.com and www.prehealthguy.blogspot.com.More Info here!
  • May 5th – May 13th 2018, STEM Week Oregon, See STEM Week Resources  for GOSTEM videos and activities and for State of Oregon information: http://stemoregon.org/stemweek2018/
  • May 28, 2018: Applications Due for Renewable Energy Leadership Lab. See more here
  • June 15, 2018: Registration deadline for Engineering Workshops: The daVinci Project.  More information here See Donna Rainboth about how GOSTEM can help get you there!  drainbot@eou.edu
  • June 17 – June 22, 2018Cottonwood Crossing Summer Institute, is now accepting applications from regional high school students and teachers to attend the week-long residential field studies program held June 17-22, 2018 at Cottonwood Canyon State Park. CCSI began in 2015 as a collaborative project with partners from Oregon State Parks, Greater Eastern Regional Solutions and Eastern Oregon University. Beginning this year, EOU has taken a lead role in coordinating the program. Check out the website (eou.edu/cottonwood-crossing) to learn more about the projects that will take place this year and to access the application portal. Please forward this opportunity to any students or teachers who would be interested
  • June 18-22: MedQuest Camp
  • October 13:   Share your expertise with educators around the state! OSTA is accepting proposals for Sessions on Friday, October 12 and Workshops on Saturday, October 13th. For details on the strand descriptions and to submit your proposal, check out their conference webpage at http://oregonscience.org/OSTA18.

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Each month GOSTEM will showcase a different STEM Launch Point and the connections that can be explored in each STEM discipline. These stories are quick summaries of interesting people and circumstances where using STEM was as an integrated way of thinking and necessary to solve the problem. The story we offer in this month’s newsletter is George Carver: From Nothing to Amazing!

The Story

Bright, motivated, highly principled, George Carver completed his college education and was promptly offered a job to teach science and agriculture at the newly formed Tuskeegee Institute. When he arrives at the college he was welcomed to a building where he was asked to perform wonders–only to find it empty!

George Caver started with nothing. No equipment, no books, no furniture, no laboratory, and even no heat! Simply asking for these things is not going to work because Tuskeegee had virtually no money.  So, what to do?   Carver began to rummage around and find things in discards, rubbish, or second hand stores. He built his army of students to follow in his footsteps to create a laboratory and learning classroom from scratch. Professor Carver liked to make things; it was his natural inclination.  But students didn’t know what to do. “There’s no need to whine, ‘Oh, if I only had so-and-so!’” he instructed. “Do it anyhow; use what you find about you.” Then he took them out to scour rubbish heaps for bottles, jars, wires, rubber, string, and glass. “Equipment is not all in the laboratory, but in the head of the man running it.”

This is a perfect invitation for students to take-on the same habit of mind. In this STEM unit, students explore how they can make some of their own equipment from recycled materials and how they can do experiments in food chemistry.  Students can explore the nature of proteins in milk and their applications to making plastics through denaturing and polymerization, learn how to remove starch from potato and create paper, saponify fat, and distill fermented fruit to create solvents.  These explorations, their instructions, and teacher guide are available at https://sites.google.com/a/eou.edu/stem-stories/carver

STEM Launch Points are archived on the GOSTEM home page at http://go-stem.org/stem-launch-page/  GOSTEM would like to collect your stories and contexts that connect young people to explorations in STEM.  Send us your ideas!  Contact mjaeger@eou.edu