Monday, March 15, 2010

Nonprofit Group Shows Legislators a Unique Way to Bring Math, Science to the Classroom

The North Idaho Discovery Association (NIDA), a non-profit organization that provides hands-on science and technology experiences to students, was at the Idaho Legislature today, presenting to House and Senate Education Committee members.

The committee heard from NIDA founder Dr. Lorna Finman as well as students from Post Falls High School and vocational technical teacher Sal Lorenzen. (Lorenzen won the Governor’s Industry Award for Notable Teaching in Science -- GIANTS -- award in 2009.)

NIDA offers free science and technology programs to Idaho schools to engage more students in the fields of math, science and engineering.  One of its most popular programs is FIRST Robotics.  Through this program, students learn to build and program robots and then compete against other students across the state, region and nation.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna helped expand this program last year with funding from the State Department of Education. Currently, between 500-600 middle school students participate in these robotics programs.

Students demonstrated their robotics skills at the House and Senate Education Committee hearings today, operating the LEGO mind storm robot as it passed out glowing star necklaces and light sabers to the legislators. They went on to testify that the robotics program makes math and science applicable, motivates students to learn, and compels students to go on to post-secondary education.

Right now, NIDA is also in the process of building a new Science, Technology, and Research Center in Rathdrum with hands-on exhibits and education/research facilities for students to use. 

Visit the North Idaho Discovery Association's web site for more information about its programs.

~ Melissa M.

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