Students dive deep into the mysteries of space

Mar. 14—RIPLEY COUNTY — On Feb. 22 and March 7, sixth-grade students in Ripley County were provided with a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of our galaxy.

Thanks to a collaborative effort between Oldenburg Academy, Genesis: Pathways to Success, Batesville Memorial Public Library, Drake Planetarium, and Kids Discovery Factory, young minds were ignited with wonder and knowledge.

In this immersive experience, 409 students from Batesville Middle School, Jac-Cen-Del Elementary School, Milan Middle School, South Ripley Elementary School, St. Louis Catholic School, and St. Nicholas Catholic School were transported into the depths of space within the confines of a remarkable 14-foot portable planetarium, courtesy of Drake Planetarium.

This celestial sanctuary, held inside the Batesville Memorial Public Library, provided an opportunity for students to increase their academic achievement levels in science concepts.

Sixth-grade students have an Indiana Department of Education Science Academic Standard relating to solar eclipses where they learn about the cyclic patterns of lunar phases and the role that the sun and moon play in eclipses.

While students are learning about eclipses in the classroom, the portable planetarium allows students to make real-world connections by "experiencing" a solar eclipse. Now, Ripley County's sixth-grade students will be equipped with the knowledge and expertise to safely view the solar eclipse occurring on April 8.

Kids Discovery Factory was present for this immersive experience, providing two rooms for enrichment activities. Through these activities, students experienced the captivating soundscape of nature during a total eclipse, engaged with a sound level meter to understand the fluctuations in sound during a celestial event, and drove robots acting as Mars rovers on missions.

"The exploration of space is a thrilling concept that allows students to dream big," Amy Streator, a Communications Professor at Oldenburg Academy, said. "Exploring space is the epitome of interdisciplinary learning — it weaves physics, chemistry, math, biology, economics, and political science together as we attempt to understand the mysteries of the universe. I appreciate the collaboration between the Vision Fund and Oldenburg Academy, which is the foundation of this unique experiential learning opportunity just ahead of the Solar Eclipse. This is an example of the power of partnerships."

This hands-on learning opportunity would not have been possible without the generous support from The Joan and John W. Hillenbrand VISION Fund for Innovation. The VISION Fund for Innovation gives educators from the Batesville Community School Corporation, Oldenburg Academy, or St. Louis School the opportunity to fund a project that directly and positively impacts the environment of a classroom and increases student learning.

If you are interested in learning more about Genesis: Pathways to Success' STEM education opportunities, contact Clarice Patterson by emailing at, calling 812-933-1098, or stopping by the office at 13 E. George Street, Suite B, Batesville. — Information provided