STEM ZONE Volunteers Ramp Up Experience

The Chevron STEM Zone gave fans at Oak Tree National of all ages the opportunity to see how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are a big part of the equation when it comes to the game of golf. (USGA/Hunter Martin)
By Jonathan Wilhelm, USGA
July 13, 2014


EDMOND, Okla. – A special group of volunteers is lending its time to the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National this week. These volunteers are taking time out of their summer to help shape the minds of people of all ages from the Oklahoma area – which is something they also do as a profession.

The volunteers in the Chevron STEM ZONE (with “STEM” standing for science, technology, engineering and math) are teachers from the Oklahoma City area, all of whom are alumni of Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City.

The Chevron STEM ZONE features seven stations designed to bring STEM principles to life, with hands-on exhibits and just enough of a “wow factor” to create buzz among participants. Visitors can test their reaction times and their knowledge of gravity, while also checking out the fan-favorite thermal image or replica news studio – complete with a green screen and teleprompter.

Notebook: $135,000 Raised at Senior Open For Eagles For Education

The passion and knowledge of the educators helps to enhance the fan experience. “I’ve actually learned quite a bit more than I thought I would about what’s behind the game of golf,” said Andrew Stoumbaugh, a mathematics teacher at Del City High School in Oklahoma City. “We’ve had a lot of people come in here who don’t know about the dimples on the golf ball or what they do, and we’ve been able to explain it to them and how they affect the airflow around the ball.”

Utilizing local educators in the STEM Zone began during the back-to-back U.S. Open Championships at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in June, and has proven to be an instant success. These volunteers lend their understanding of STEM principles and instructional expertise to help maximize interest and engagement among fans.

“Since part of Chevron’s mission is to inspire the next generation of innovators, it’s great to have these STEM teachers bringing the science of golf to life for students of all ages,” said Bianca Valjalo, manager of the Chevron STEM ZONE. “Partnering with the USGA is a great way to not only help kids pick up the concepts of STEM, but also make it fun in the process.”

The experience is rewarding for the volunteers as well. “Being able to understand what’s going on makes people like things a lot more,” said Kyle Skidmore, who earned a mathematics degree from Mid-American University. “When you tutor someone or teach someone how to do something and they figure it out, that just makes me happy. When I found out I would be doing this, and it would be for kids, I thought, that’s right up my alley.”

Of course, it’s not all about being a Chevron STEM ZONE volunteer. Both Stoumbaugh and Skidmore are avid golfers and fans of the game, and the allure of being a part of the U.S. Senior Open was a quick draw for both.

“Being at a major golf championship is a big deal. I can say that I’ve been to the U.S. Senior Open Championship,” said Stoumbaugh. “Being able to be in the golf atmosphere was a real plus.”

Jonathan Wilhelm is the USGA's social media specialist. Email him at

Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @usopengolf
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image