Jolene Harris Externship at Idaho National Laboratory

Jolene Harris Externship at Idaho National LaboratoryThis summer I have had the amazing opportunity to work in several different capacities with the Idaho National Laboratory. First, I was able to help with the STEM scholars’ camps. This year the theme was physics. I was able to assist other teacher externs in facilitating lessons and activities for students from first through fifth grade. We talked about concepts such as gravity, Newton’s laws of motion, and potential and kinetic energy. Students made solar cars, balloon rockets, galaxy bottles and more! It was wonderful to collaborate with fellow educators and gain experience with additional STEM activities I can use in my own classroom this coming year.

I have also been able to work with the INL K-12 education enrichment program. I helped children from the community make catapults at a local STEAM camp as well helped with projects for the INL booth for Youth Jam. The enrichment program works to inspire students to enter STEM careers in the future.

Finally, I was able to work closely with research scientists from INL’s bioenergy department. I was able to learn more about the research tasks associated with the Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium (FCIC). They are working to make the process of turning biomass into biofuel a more economical and viable energy solution. I wrote lesson plans associated with the various tasks the researchers are working on including a spotlight on how they tie into real-world STEM research projects. The hope is that fellow educators can use these lesson plans to give students hands-on STEM experiences and open their eyes to all of the varied careers in STEM fields and encourage them to learn the needed skills to pursue those careers.