The education experience
(our secret sauce)
Northwest Nuclear Laboratories is unlike any education experience in the world because our scientists develop confidence unlike any in the world.
It is one thing to study a subject, however it is quite another to engage it within a practical setting. At Northwest Nuclear Laboratories it begins with a lab coat, name plate, dosimeter, and a cutting-edge research laboratory. There is a defining moment when a teenager dons their lab coat, powers up the reactor, hears the crackle of radiation detectors while witnessing a literal star being created in a controlled reactor environment. It is a metamorphosis of sorts; childhood naivety is replaced with a certain degree of confidence and desire to inquire and understand their natural world. And within that moment, a new scientist is created.
Northwest Nuclear Laboratories is a laboratory for High School age volunteers. Though we have an introductory curriculum based on sections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Training and Safety test materials, we are not an educational institution. What is impressive, however, is that we don't need to be an educational institution. Our volunteers are motivated to learn on their own. We like to think of ourselves as the vehicle that allows our scientists to leverage what is taught in public education as a baseline, and then journey far beyond what is taught in common textbooks. It doesn't take long for our scientists to begin doing college-level work and quite often graduate-level scientific work.
really, really smart people
Working side-by-side with mentors that are passionate electrical engineers, nuclear scientists, programmers, astronauts, executives, project managers, and teachers at some of the most well-respected companies and schools in the region means that dreams are no longer aspirational, but tangible. Our mentors inspire our scientists to see what is possible and provide a path to achieve that possibility.
A little healthy Competition
Some people compete in football, soccer, band, dance, or tennis. We compete in science innovation....and there is nothing that says you can't compete on both sports teams and research teams, as long as you don't let one of your teams down. Innovation drives our scientists to conduct cutting-edge research. They learn how to present that research to an audience that ranges from scientific professionals who are experts in the area of research to those who are unfamiliar to science. We have a tradition of having some of the most compelling science projects at the regional and the state science fairs, earning top awards and ~$800K in scholarships in 8 years. Some of our teams have also earned a highly coveted trip to the Intel International Science Fair in which WA state is only allotted 15 seats.
A wickedly cool laboratory
Let's face it, there is little else in this world that is as awe-inspiring or mysterious as nuclear fusion technology. Not only is the technology jaw dropping, but we also have instrumentation, lighting, cameras, and video displays to ensure our students know how exciting this is. The mastery of nuclear science for peaceful purposes unlocks a capability for mankind to move forward in areas that exist only in the furthest regions of our imagination: propelling spacecraft, powering highly technological cities, and healing the cells that make up our bodies. Atoms literally make up everything. Nuclear science let's us understand the building blocks of our universe and perhaps someday allow mankind to master those building blocks. Our laboratory is designed for explorers; those who are inspired by what can be and are willing to take the step to enter into a whole new world of science; those who want to change our world.