INL engineers help students' minds soar

BLACKFOOT – Rockets were launching, balloons were bursting and imaginations soaring last week as students at Idaho Science and Technology Charter School learned alongside teacher Chad Majeske and INL professionals.
Getting students to like math and science is important to Majeske. He says studies indicate it is in middle school that students decide if they like math and science.
"It's not about whether or not they are good at math and science," said Majeske. "If we can just get them to like it, then when it gets hard they will stick with it."
On Thursday, students got a close look at the "cooler" side of science when INL employees Ben Longhurst and Greg Clemens brought high speed, real-time, color digital cameras to record experiments the students planned. INL owns six of the specialized cameras that cost approximately $200,000 each.
"These guys are like real myth busters," said Majeske. "It's cool when you go to school long enough for someone to trust you with equipment like this. I want the kids to see they can do exciting things."
Longhurst, whose wife Maria teaches math at ISTCS, specializes in developing armor to protect vehicles, buildings and people. Longhurst says he grew up in schools that placed value on science and provided high quality science equipment.
"I hope these kids get inspired," said Longhurst. "I hope they will continue their education and pursue high tech careers."
Clemens spent 20 years working for the Department of Defense before his employment at the INL began eight years ago. Clemens has a degree in Civil Structure Engineering and specializes in explosives. Clemens says his work involves "building model buildings and blowing them up," with the intent of protecting government assets and property from explosives.
"There are a lot of really creative teachers," said Majeske. "But, it's hard to put students in the right position to let them be the creative ones. That's how they really learn though –– if it's their idea."
Majeske says that at least once every project a student will surprise him with an exceptional idea.
"I love when someone has an idea and it's something I've never thought of before, it's exciting," said Majeske.  I think my energy helps the kids have high energy, and then I feed off of them."
Majeske is committed to generating an excitement for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and welcoming Longhurst and Clemens to the school proved to be a successful avenue for his goal.