seal  Purdue News

September 24, 2003

Purdue, NASA to engage Indianapolis high-schoolers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – More than 100 Indianapolis high school students will be at Purdue University on Thursday (9/25) as the first step in a partnership with the university and NASA to expand their science curriculum.

Freshmen through juniors from the Key Learning Community, an Indianapolis Public School, will learn about research being done in the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training for Advanced Life Support at Purdue. Most of the research aims to create life-supporting environments in space.

During their visit, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m., 112 students from the school will visit five Purdue laboratories and talk with faculty and graduate students about their research.

Julia Hains-Allen, the center's outreach coordinator, said the collaboration between Purdue and the Key Learning Community will not end with the students' trip to Purdue but will continue indefinitely, connecting the school with Purdue researchers and NASA scientists.

"This is a lasting partnership," Hains-Allen said. "Students at the school will continue to interact with the faculty and graduate students they meet at Purdue. As they perform their own experiments and research, they will develop a network of support and collaboration."

Research that the students will learn about includes glowing plants in space, and waste, water and air recycling. The students will then have a chance to try to answer the same questions that Purdue researchers are examining as they perform their own experiments throughout the school year.

Hains-Allen said an important goal of the partnership is to expose the students to new areas of science, engineering and technology and encourage them to ask new questions.

"It is part of the mission of the center – as well as NASA and Purdue – to encourage young people to study science and engineering," she said. "The study of these new environments is really a study of the Earth. We will learn about how we are going to study on Mars by learning about how we live on Earth."

Hains-Allen said the partnership will not only help to turn some of the students to science as a career, but also will help improve their science literacy.

Bioanalytical Systems, of West Lafayette, and Dow AgroSciences, of Indianapolis, have both donated scientific instruments for the Key Learning Community students to use in their research. Hains-Allen said that in both cases, the companies were able to pass on equipment that was no longer being used.

"The generosity of Bioanalytical Systems and Dow Agro Sciences demonstrates the importance of the business community's support for educational programs," she said. "Without these donations, the students would not be able to perform the scope and depth of experiments they will now have the opportunity to do. Instruments and equipment that are no longer in use can be invaluable for students."

Established by NASA in 2002, the center joined researchers at Purdue, Howard University and Alabama A&M University with NASA researchers to address requirements of supporting human life in space. The center focuses on four major issues: food production and safety, waste recycling, systems engineering, and educational outreach.

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073,

Source: Julia Hains-Allen, (765) 496-6545,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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