Students learn from fun exhibits, hands-on projects

Flashing lights and fog made the Headquarters auditorium look more like a rave party than the ITD boardroom. But that was just good fun for the nearly 100 middle-school students from Canyon County and the Pocatello area.

The students participated in an engineering field trip to ITD Wednesday (June 12) where they learned why it is important to study science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM).

This year, students attending Idaho State University’s summer science camp joined teens from Canyon County’s 2C Science Camp for a day at ITD where all participated in demonstrations and hands-on projects. The experience helped them explore STEM subjects in new and interesting ways.

Discover Technology volunteers welcomed students to the day’s activities with a robot and a unique program that was part weird science, but all education. Before it was over, Chief Operations Officer Jim Carpenter watched his lunch and cell phone quick-frozen with liquid nitrogen.

ITD volunteers put on chemistry, geotechnical and structure demonstrations and served as guides for small groups of students for tours and demonstrations at the east Annex.

“Our valued volunteers were so important in that they helped open the students’ eyes to everything ‘STEM’ during the visit,” explained Cindy Fosella, with ITD Human Resources.

A new partnership with Discover Technology Inc. offered more hands-on opportunities for the visiting students using the organization’s STEM Mobile Discovery Lab. The lab is a refurbished, public-transit bus equipped with the latest technologies enabling up to 22 students at a time to work on STEM projects.

An outdoor display featured an Incident Response vehicle, a fully equipped snowplow and the department’s snowplow-training simulator, in which many students tried plowing digital snow without hitting another vehicle or random obstructions.

“Between our ITD labs, the parking-lot exhibits and the Discover Technology STEM bus, these students had a fun experience that provided much information for thought about their future careers,” Fosella said.

ITD’s field-trip experience shows students the advantages of staying in school, studying STEM-related subjects and learning how those classroom lessons are applied to real-world problems.

Volunteers who helped make the day a success included:

Ken Acree Greg Larsen Russ Rivera Ron Wright
Duane Brothers Brian Ness Trish Whitney Nolan Hutsell
Jim Carpenter Sajonara Tipuric Dianna Hoffecker Shanon Murgoitio
Barb Conklin Liz Healas Dianna Magstadt Janie Stillwell
Monica Crider Jake Legler Mike Sprague Muhammad Zubery

Photos: A Discover Technology volunteer demonstrates how to flatten an inflated balloon with liquid nitrogen (top); Jim Carpenter watches his lunch become a frozen entree (upper right); Tours or ITD’s laboratory facilities gave students a look at how science is applied at the department (middle left); Students were welcomed to ITD and the day’s activities by the Discover Technology robot (lower left); and ISU summer-camp students learn about rebar (lower right)

Published 6-21-13