Madison STEAM Academy

Student Energy Board Helps Young Scientists Know the Details


Madison Group Photo Spring 2018

ND Energy continued its relationship with Madison STEAM Academy in South Bend this past year by supplementing the fourth grade energy curriculum. A group of Student Energy Board (SEB) members spent a morning at Madison manning stations that demonstrated energy concepts in an interactive way. SEB members were Cameron Gorsak, Bobby Wellendorf, Breanna Belz, and Rory Burke.


In addition, as part of his Energy Studies Minor capstone project, senior John “Jack” Feger worked with fourth grade teacher Ashley Boege on “Details Matter,” an attempt to help students become more observant. In analyzing whether or not a sketch of a circuit was opened or closed on a state test, for example, students failed to notice the position of the switch. Understanding the flow of electricity is one component of learning, but attention to detail is an essential skill in the application of the knowledge.

Our Neighbors: The Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers


After weeks of meeting in small working groups to brainstorm about ways to explain energy to fourth graders, 15 members of GreeND and ND Energy’s Student Energy Board spent a Friday morning at James Madison Primary Center in downtown South Bend translating physics into reality. Small groups of junior researchers rotated around to different stations, using infrared thermometers, solar cars, ultraviolet flashlights, fluorescent crayons, and a radiometer to better visualize and experiment with energy transformation. They were encouraged to dream big and become the next generation of scientists and engineers who would work toward evolving clean, renewable energy choices.

ND Energy began its partnership with its young neighbors last year by first visiting the students at Madison and then inviting them for a day on campus. Although the schools are less than two miles apart, most Madison students only come to campus through university-sponsored outreach programs and rarely do Notre Dame students get the opportunity to visit area schools. So this experience resulted in both sides learning a lot and developing what we hope will become a long-term, standing relationship.

A struggling school in the past, Madison is poised to make a strong turn around after earning STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) certification from the state of Indiana. By forming strong partnerships with community institutions such as Notre Dame and ND Energy, Madison will be using hands-on STEM activities to peak the students’ interests and natural curiosities. ND Energy is part of an ND contingent that hopes to form a long-term relationship for the betterment of both.

ND Energy appreciates the students who gave up their time to share their personal energy interests with Madison on a Friday morning. They were: Erin Lenke, Tessa Clarizio, Brittany Benninger, Caroline McCutcheon, Jacqueline Zawada, Haley Christian, Audrey Immonen, Greg Campion, Anna Scartz, Katherine Conlisk, Beruchya Dao-Bai, Bobby Wellendorf, Shane Anderson, Erika Kim, and Marion Delaney. Those who helped plan the activities included Justin Blake, Erika Black, Rory Burke, Matthew Magiera, Alex Baumann, Tansy Wang, Joseph Levano, Kevin Weaver, Matt Schaefer, Chris Hume, and Matt Chamberlain.

Madison Primary Center Visits Notre Dame

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.

Madison School Lunch At Geddes

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.