Students in middle schools around the state will integrate art, science, technology and energy topics through a new Clay Center education program funded in part by a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.\r\nA longtime supporter of the Clay Center, the Benedum Foundation has awarded a grant in the amount of $194,000 over two years for a program focused on the energy industries in West Virginia titled \u201cemPowered Stories.\u201d This new outreach program will begin with teacher training in January 2014 and will run through September 2016.\r\nThrough \u201cemPowered Stories,\u201d students in seven participating middle schools in Barbour, Boone, Gilmer and Jackson counties, as well as one still-to-be-finalized location, will produce digital stories exploring energy issues in their communities. These stories will address community issues and questions posed by the natural gas and energy industries in a creative way that facilitates 21st century learning and strengthens skills in the STEAM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art and math.\r\nThe project is also intended to encourage students to take college preparatory science and elective technology courses in high school, and ultimately pursue careers in science or technology.\r\nThe \u201cemPowered Stories\u201d project will involve the creation of Professional Learning Communities made up of teachers and afterschool staff from each participating school. These teachers will be trained in the process and production of digital storytelling by Clay Center Professional Development and Curriculum Coordinator Greg Macer.\r\nIn the fall of 2014, the newly-trained teachers will work with their students to develop 10-minute multi-media video exhibitions using collected oral histories, interviews, video segments and photography, tied together by voiceover narratives. These completed videos will be displayed in a special exhibit at the Clay Center.\r\nThis gift was instrumental in helping the Center meet a challenge grant from the Energy Corporation of America Foundation, awarded earlier this year.\r\nFor more information on \u201cemPowered Stories,\u201d contact Greg Macer at 304-561-3567. To learn more about all Clay Center programs, call 304-561-3570 or visit www.theclaycenter.org.