April 15th was a beautiful blue day on the Notre Dame campus and the air was full of energy, in more ways than one. As part of an ongoing partnership with Madison Primary Center in downtown South Bend, ND Energy faculty, staff, and students welcomed about 100 third graders to campus for the day to teach them about science and college life in general.
The day began with groups rotating to four stations. At the first station in Stinson-Remick Hall, they experienced Energy Theater, pretending to be the sun, trees, apples, wind, fire, and other elements of the energy cycle. The second station took advantage of all of the nearby construction and the science and trades involved. The third and fourth groups spent time in Fitzpatrick Hall examining different kinds of rocks and minerals. The fossils and quartzes were big hits.
Stage two involved a walk across campus to the Jordan Hall of Science and a lesson on planets and stars in the Digital Visualization Theatre. While walking through Jordan, there were many comments on the display cases and skeletons at the Museum of Biodiversity. The dinosaur skull and cat skeleton drew a lot of comments.
The day was capped off with pizza in Geddes Hall and conversation with Notre Dame undergraduate students. Most third graders had no concept of college or Notre Dame beyond sports. Many of them thought that Stinson-Remick was a hospital or hotel. Staff and faculty were asked if they were the principal and when told that Notre Dame had a president, they thought it was Barak Obama.
Madison school is a little more than a mile from Notre Dame’s campus and is working hard to become a STEM magnet. ND Energy went to the school in the fall to teach students about renewable energy and is planning to follow-up with one more class before the year is over. Hopefully, one of the most important lessons learned on April 15th was that Notre Dame is more than just a football team.