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After School Science Clubs Present Projects at The Children's Museum

Students Get Creative Responding to

Environmental Challenges


On May 11, students from Oaklandon, CFI-2 (Center for Inquiry School 2), SENSE (Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence), and Paramount gathered at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis for a special event.  Throughout the school year, the students had been taking part in a special After School Science Club (ASSC) program, and May 11 was the culmination of the ASSC experience: presentation of their projects to the public. 

The ASSC program - designed to teach students in grades 3-6 more about science, encourage learning-by-doing, and increase student interest in STEM fields - is the result of a collaboration between IUPUI's Center for Earth and Environmental Science, the IUPUI School of Education, and The Children's Museum.  This is the second year that The Children's Museum has hosted the ASSC presentations.  CEES interns assist with the program and were eager to cheer on their little science-sibs, so of course CEES was on-hand with the Center's Science Sprinter to witness the event!

The Science Sprinter gets a prime location in the front courtyard.


The science clubs promote experiential, student-led learning.  Students were challenged to identify an environmental problem that affected their school or community, then find and implement a solution to the problem.  The projects chosen by the students were diverse, and their solutions (and presentations) were interesting, informative, and creative!

Students from CFI-2 examined the importance of native plants to insect pollinators.

Pictured (left to right): Shelby Gills (CEES intern); CFI-2 students Clara, Evyn, Mia, Marlo, Ms. Kyley Nocton (teacher), and Georgia.


Students could choose to work on one (or more) projects collectively as a large group, or students could work individually or in small groups on many projects.  SENSE, Paramount, and CFI-2 chose the large-group approach, while Oaklandon took the individual/small group approach.  This is an accurate reflection of the scientific process: sometimes a question/problem is addressed by an individual, sometimes by a small group of people, and sometimes by a large research team.  

Oaklandon students Jude and Nick discuss methods for filtering and recycling toilet water.


Ka-Ray, Kira, and Julianna (Oaklandon) present a cost-benefit analysis of replacing plastic sporks and straws with stainless steel.  They determined that over a school year, 530,000 cubic feet (the equivalent of 2212 school bus loads) of plastic waste is generated in their school district - and that switching to stainless steel would save the district (minimally) $17,000 !!!


Ruby (Oaklandon) demonstrated the benefits for spring gardening of an easy DIY greenhouse.


Katie (Oaklandon) tested the usefulness of coffee grounds as a soil amendment to stimulate plant growth.


Charlotte (Oaklandon) compared the carbon emissions generated by various types of diets, ranging from a meat-lover's diet to meat-no-beef to classical vegetarian to vegan.  Carbon-intensity of each diet was considered at various stages of the food-to-table process: food production, food transportation, and wholesaling/retailing costs of food products.


Paramount students conducted projects centered on the theme of soil health.

Pictured (left to right): Paramount students Jamal, Santiago, Luis, William, Isaias, Addy, and Leon.


Students from SENSE looked into ways to recycle types of plastic that are not normally recycled.  One such plastic (number 5) is used to make bottle caps.  The students collected ~ 200 lbs of bottle caps which will be made into a park bench.

Pictured (left to right): SENSE students Isabella, Bethzy, Chalessy, Kevin, Jasmine (front, kneeling), Hadyn, Ms. Elizabeth Johnson (teacher, back row), and Vincent.


As a final highlight to the day, RTV6 did part of the noon broadcast from The Children's Museum, including footage of the ASSC event.

Kevin Gregory of RTV6 interviews Brian Plankis, Director of Science Education at The Children's Museum, and founder of the ASSC program.


Group photo: CEES staff and CFI-2 students and teachers (left); Kevin Gregory, Brian Plankis, and Paramount students and teachers (center); Oaklandon students and teachers and RTV6 cameraman (right). SENSE students had to return to school before the noon broadcast.


Funding to support the ASSC program over the past two years was provided by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).



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