About 180 eighth-graders donned lab coats and learned about the science of spring storms on May 11, thanks to a partnership between Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis' Center for Earth and Environmental Science and the Duke Energy Foundation.
The event at Brownsburg East Middle School was the first stop for a mobile science lab that will travel the state to encourage more students to pursue careers in science, math, engineering and technology.
A $400,000 Duke Energy Foundation grant is funding the mobile lab and a program that engages students in hands-on lessons on topics such as the energy of storms and renewable power sources. The mobile lab is equipped with working solar panels and a wind turbine to demonstrate how renewable power works. IUPUI educators use interactive technology tools from the lab to bring lessons to life.
At the Brownsburg event, which was attended by School of Science Dean Simon J. Rhodes, students saw a "tornado in a box" demonstration and made wind turbines that they tested against different wind speeds. Kevin Gregory, meteorologist for WRTV-6 in Indianapolis, broadcast live from the school.
"The School of Science is so pleased to partner with Duke Energy to bring science experiences to young children in Indiana," Rhodes said. "Our state and country need more scientists and engineers, and we hope that this program will inspire more students to realize their potential."
The mobile science lab is one aspect of Discovering the Science of the Environment, the signature education initiative of IUPUI's Center for Earth and Environmental Science. CEES is an interdisciplinary academic center in the School of Science. It has three core missions: applied research addressing environmental issues of concern to local communities, public service through translation of research to inform decision-making and environmental science education.