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Discovering the Science of the Environment at Felege Hiywot

Percoltion tests determine infiltration rates

Every summer, many children are looking for ways to fill their time.  At Felege Hiywot Center, the children are offered a unique opportunity to spend that time learning about science, gardening and community.  Felege Hiywot is an Ethiopian cultural center in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood that offers after school programs as well as a week long summer camp teaching STEM in the garden. Felege Hiywot is home to one of the largest urban gardens in Indianapolis and graciously invited IUPUI to implement DSE programming this year.

Discovering the Science of the Environment (DSE) is a program designed to get kids excited about science by giving them hands on experiments and advanced technology. This was most exemplified by the sample soil study. The soil investigation module explores quantitative and qualitative techniques to examine the health of the soil beneath our feet and determine its ability to grow food.

We learned how to describe soil texture and composition as well as how to interpret a Munsel soil color chart. Students were able to form their own soil profiles using different sized particles to visually demonstrate strata layers. Quantitative data was collected on handheld LabQuest computers using different probes for soil moisture, temperature and pH. All of the data was then used to determine if the soil was healthy enough to grow healthy vegetables.

For the younger campers (K-3), we designed an ecosystem exploration. We read the book “Jump Frog, Jump” together to introduce the concept of food chains/webs. Everybody then had a great time collecting and documenting all the different kinds of life they could find using binoculars and magnifying bug collectors. Then we explored how all of these types of life fit into a food web. We learned which species were producers, consumers, herbivores, omnivores or carnivores.

Many of the campers and counselors came with a ready interest in science. In fact, many want to pursue careers in science, especially medicine and chemistry. Everyone was excited to see science they had only read about in books come to life in front of them.  After this experience, I think we can all agree. Science Rocks!


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