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February 9, 2006

Bechtel Gift Assists Berkeley Lab Education Outreach

BERKELEY, CA –The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will be enhancing its science education outreach in the Bay Area, thanks to a $100,000 gift from Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr, former chairman of the Board of Directors of The Bechtel Group engineering and project management firm.

Rollie Otto and students
Rollie Otto heads Berkeley Lab's Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE), which runs a series of science workshops designed to prepare fifth graders to pass the science portion of the California STAR achievement test. A grant from the Bechtel Foundation will enable CSEE to expand the workshops from public schools in Berkeley to schools in Oakland as well.

Rollie Otto, Berkeley Lab’s Head of the Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE), said the funds will be used “to bring real scientists, real science tools and standards-based science investigations to elementary and middle school students. The grant stemmed from Mr. Bechtel’s concern that students were losing interest in science and mathematics. And Berkeley Lab is responding to this concern.”

One of the projects to which the gift will be applied is CSEE’s science workshops for fifth graders, which are designed to assist with their preparation for taking the science portion of the California STAR achievement test. Having helped more than 700 fifth graders in Berkeley last year, the Bechtel gift will allow the program’s expansion this year into Oakland public elementary schools.

Berkeley Lab’s education team last year designed lessons and a student lab book that focused on hands-on experiments, addressing concepts such as solids, liquids, gases, the Periodic Table of Elements, and electricity, magnetism, and thermal conductivity which are emphasized in the California fourth and fifth grade science standards. Lab scientists volunteered to help as the team visited all 11 of Berkeley’s public elementary schools for two lessons each.

Other applications for the gift include a partnership with Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME) to provide 8-week mentored summer research internships for science teachers; a report on the needs and preferences of high school students planning careers in science, engineering and computing sciences; and an assessment of the impact of mentored research experiences at Berkeley Lab on the college-going career choices of high school students.

“We very much appreciate this assistance provided by Mr. Bechtel,” Otto said. “In the end, it is our regional youth who benefit, and it is through partnerships like this one that Berkeley Lab can bring its tools and expertise to bear on the quality of science instruction being provided in our local communities.”

For almost half a century, the Bechtel Foundation has been responding to the needs of communities around the world in which Bechtel has offices or major projects. In 2004, the Foundation made grants totaling $1.7 million to 270 non-profit organizations in eight countries. The Foundation has four giving programs: Community Involvement, Educational Outreach, Bechtel Global Scholars, and Matching Gift grants.

In addition, the Foundation supports other charitable activities of interest to Bechtel and its employees, such as math and science education.

Bechtel is a global engineering, construction and project management company with more than a century of experience on complex projects in challenging locations. Privately owned with headquarters in San Francisco, the company has 40 offices around the world and 40,000 employees.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website at

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