There is no doubt that when it comes to science and math, most K-12 students would rather pass. The Idaho National Laboratory is teaming up with schools across Idaho to increase science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
"Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of virtual reality in scientific instruction, and they've demonstrated that a 3D environment makes those sorts of tasks a lot easier," said lab lead Eric Whiting, with the INL's Center for Advanced Energy Studies.
The INL has even transformed ordinary classrooms in several schools across the state, including Sandcreek Middle School, in Ammon.
"We got the classroom makeover grant from the INL. It's $10,000 worth of technology," said Principal Lyndon Oswald.
Oswald has been working with INL to learn the new 3D technology that can simulate atoms, an entire solar system or even a complete power grid layout. INL's K-12 STEM outreach manager, Anne Seifert, said teaching students the importance of science and math will help invest in Idaho's future. She said the lab even uses some of the same STEM approaches in it's own work.
"As our workforce ages, we're looking for students that can come in with the skills that are capable to be agile problem-solvers and critical thinkers. So they can fill the capacity here at the laboratory," said Seifert.
Seifert said 79 percent of STEM jobs available require secondary education and, in Idaho, only 39 percent of the student population meets these requirements. The INL believes that as more schools adopt the STEM program and add new-age techniques to learning, students will become more literate in the sciences to move on to higher education.