San Jon students to study at Notre Dame

William Thompson:Quay County Sun

San Jon High School science teacher Steve Goodgame will be taking five or six San Jon students to Notre Dame University this fall to study core samples collected from beneath the Indian Ocean floor.

Goodgame said several Notre Dame geology professors will visit San Jon in August to work with the students prior to their trip to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. in October or November.

The students have not been chosen yet. Goodgame said he’s looking for serious students.

“These kids will measure crystals with a scanning electron micro-probe in a laboratory at Notre Dame. The micro-probe shows what atoms are present in that crystal,” Goodgame said. “The data our students discover will be used in a study Notre Dame is doing. These kids will be using million-dollar equipment.”

Goodgame has a working relationship with Will Kinman, a Ph.D. candidate in the Notre Dame geology department.
Kinman said the study is a major project for Notre Dame as well as the San Jon students.

“These kinds of projects, they are invaluable,” Kinman said. “The excitement of science, you can’t get that from regular high school classes.”

Goodgame said the Notre Dame study is designed to discover how the underground rock beneath the Indian Ocean was formed.

“Our kids will help Notre Dame students analyze the rock for
mineral content,” Goodgame said. “This will lead to greater understanding of what causes volcanoes, earthquakes and continent formation.”

About 15 San Jon students have expressed interest in wanting to participate in the study and the trip to Chicago and South Bend. Chase Tillman said he thinks Goodgame should choose him.

“I’m fairly smart,” Tillman said. “I’m wanting to study forensic science at San Diego State or maybe at Notre Dame.”
Tillman’s recent science fair project demonstrated the effects of estrogen on sea urchins.

Sophomore Janay Brashear, another San Jon science buff, said she’s eager to be selected for the trip, but wasn’t sure where Notre Dame was. Her science fair project was to show how lead could be extracted from water by using alfalfa.

The week-long trip will include a train ride from Chicago to South Bend.

“Mainly, the students will be immersed in lab work while they are at Notre Dame,” Goodgame said. “The kids are starting to get fired up about it. We will choose kids who are motivated in science and who will fulfill the requirements.”
Goodgame said Notre Dame has received funding for the study from the National Science Foundation because Notre Dame has reached out to high school students.

Kinman was a former student at Deming High School. As a graduate student at Notre Dame he began working with Deming students when Goodgame was a science teacher at Deming.

Kinman said when Goodgame transferred to San Jon, he decided to continue working with Goodgame’s students.

“He (Goodgame) is obviously a major intermediary between us (at Notre Dame) and his students,” Kinman said.