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Saturday Academy

The Saturday Academy is a K-12 youth program at Kansas City Kansas Community College. We began supporting this project in 2022, during its 22nd year of programing, with funding from the ARISE project, a major Kansas NSF EPSCoR initiative. Efforts are underway to create new content focused on the data science of infrastructure. Saturday Academy is taught in 4 Module sessions on Saturdays to about 200 middle school and high school students. Modules topics include: data science relating to real time air quality data, the electrical grid, the water infrastructure, and natural gas infrastructure of Kansas City, KS. 

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Contact: Jessica Rojas, jrodas@kumc.edu for more information

Community Connections with Natural History Museum, TRIO & Libraries

We support several community outreach efforts in partnership with the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, regional TRIO programs, and Kansas libraries. This initiative seeks to build an interest in science and engineering among underserved youth populations, families, and communities in Kansas through a lens of resilience and socially relevant activities. This goal will be achieved by exploring connections between infrastructure, the environment, wellbeing, and a community’s response to hazards. These efforts are funded by the ARISE project.

Contact: Eleanor Gardner, eleanor.gardner@ku.edu for more information

Microbes on the Move: Exploring microbiomes through mobile museum experiences

The Microbes on the Move: Exploring microbiomes through mobile museum experiences project is a pop-up museum that travels across the state of Kansas to inform communities about the diversity of microorganisms and their role in natural global cycles. With the focus of illustrating the world of microbes through museum collections and living microbial communities, the project encourages elementary-age children and their families to learn about the major microbe groups; to understand and appreciate the diverse nature of microorganisms; to discover connections between microbes and their local environment, and to experience microbes as living organisms through dynamic displays. Interactive activities featured in the exhibit include collecting microbe samples from their local environment to culture fungi and create living art, assembling mini-microbial gardens using Winogradsky columns, and using USB microscopes and Foldscopes to observe individual microorganisms. This mobile museum is funded by the MAPS project.

Contact Dr. Teresa MacDonald for more information

Konza Environmental Education Program (KEEP)

We support community outreach efforts at the Konza Environmental Education Program (KEEP) with funding from the MAPS project. Our faculty researchers help create Fact Sheets about various microbiome themed topics. Docent volunteers use these Fact Sheets to lead informative nature hikes at the Konza Prairie Biological Station. The KEEP program also offers tours, hands-on exploration activities, and field trip opportunities for both the community and K-12 students throughout the academic year.

FACT SHEET: Microbial Life of the Prairie (PDF)

FACT SHEET: Prairie Soils (PDF)