On February 8th, Len Joeris passed away. He was involved in a one-car accident and died at the hospital shortly afterwards. This post is written by his two children, Jean and Ben. We wanted to inform you, this community which was so important to Len, and to remember his life and contributions.
Science was an important part of Len’s life. In high school, he won the National Science Fair by building a bubble chamber, a way to photograph subatomic particle interactions, only a few years after the Nobel Prize was awarded for its invention. He had a long and successful career in environmental engineering. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed skiing, backpacking and canoeing.
Len was an amazing father, and was deeply involved in our history with Science Olympiad. Starting in 2001, Ben got involved with Science Olympiad in Junior High. Len quickly became excited about the organization, and helped Ben with balsa building events. By 2005, Ben’s team made it to nationals. This was an incredibly exciting opportunity for both of them, and they remembered it for years to come. As Jean entered Junior High in 2005, his school did not have a Science Olympiad team. Jean and Len were instrumental in creating a team for the 2006 season. After Jean graduated in 2010, Len’s involvement in Science Olympiad only grew, along with his presence here on Scioly.
Len understood that collaboration is an essential part of science. While he enjoyed competition, he never let this interfere with sharing information with other teams, including here on Scioly. He saw understanding of the scientific process, and critical thinking, as cornerstones of education. He took great joy from Science Olympiad. It was primarily a way to pass an interest in science on to the next generation. Ben studied computer science and math, while Jean studied astrophysics and math. Their experience with him, including Science Olympiad, was highly influential in their choice of fields. Jean’s best friend also considers Len a father, and directly responsible for her career in engineering. In addition to helping students, and his presence on Scioly, he was involved in organizing and running balsa building events. He organized and ran the event at Northern Colorado regionals, as well as running the Colorado state event. He was incredibly excited that nationals are being held in Fort Collins this year, where he was organizing Towers, and was preparing to give a presentation on balsa building.
Over the years his balsa building knowledge and skills as an educator continued to grow. Through his experience, he developed tools and techniques to measure structural characteristics of balsa. This led to a system focused around frequent testing, and designing based on data. This not only built effective towers, bridges and boomilevers, it also allowed students to discover the scientific process. As his children, it is amazing to see the extent of his coaching and influence.
We are deeply saddened to share this news. We want to you to know how much this community meant to him. If you have any questions, please email Jean (firstname.lastname@example.org