Good News for The STEM Connection

Good News from Vera…

Twenty-five campers, volunteers and staff spent the past week at Moore Road Farm learning about the Amazing Animal Kingdom! They hiked, explored, observed, collected, classified, used science tools and had a wonderful week!

The bee hive is complete and in position waiting for bees!

The broccoli is ready for picking and participants from camp all enjoyed harvesting and taste testing! One camper said, “I never knew broccoli could so taste so good!”

Thank you to everyone that made this news possible!

Vera Vander Kooy – Executive Director
The STEM Connection @ Moore Road Farm

The STEM Connection Receives Grant


Indianapolis, IN June 2016
The STEM Connection has received a grant totaling $1,500.00 from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

The STEM Connection is a nonprofit corporation aimed at facilitating outdoor and handson science, technology, engineering and math experiences at Moore Road Farm and other educational sites. The STEM Connection 30 acre outdoor learning site at Moore Road Farm is in the Traders Point Rural Historic District conveniently located on the northwest side of Indianapolis. The ecosystems of the farm include deciduous forest, Eagle Creek, fields of crops and a garden open for exploration and learning. Programming is connected with ongoing conservation projects that honor the land and waterways of Indiana and seeks to grant access to those underrepresented in the STEM fields. Currently, over 100 children and adults participate monthly in The STEM Connection programming which include field trips, after school clubs, summer camps and traveling STEM experiences. “Thanks to the grant from the Nina Pulliam Charitable Trust, The STEM Connection summer camps will be accessible to many children in the greater Indianapolis area,” said Vera Vander Kooy, Executive Director.

During her career, Nina Mason Pulliam shared her financial success and business leadership skills with many charities. She was particularly sensitive to human needs, animal welfare and environmental issues. “She had a keen awareness of challenges that face our community and would take great pride in the outstanding work being done by organizations like The STEM Connection,” said Carol Schilling, Trustee chairman. “Through her Trust, we continue to build on her legacy which clearly reflects her heart for philanthropy.”

The grant to The STEM Connection represents one of 22 awarded for summer youth programs in Indiana by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust this year. Since the Trust began its grant making in 1998, it has awarded more than $126 million to 469 nonprofit organizations in Indiana.

The Trust also makes grants in Arizona, and as of April 30,2016, had assets of approximately $360 million. Visit

Contact: Vera Vander Kooy
Title: Executive Director of The STEM Connection
Email/Phone: / 317-850-2319

Change the Game for Girls in STEM

We Don’t Need More,
We Need Different

Published in The Huffington Post

Co-authored by Linda Kekelis with Kara Sammet, Manager of Research and Evaluation at Techbridge, and Jen Jayme, Director of Development and Marketing at Techbridge.

More coding camps and Maker Faires aren’t going to solve the diversity problem in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We don’t simply need more, we need different. We need to change our game and design solutions that are girl-centric and culturally-responsive and, most importantly, supportive of girls who are far outside the STEM winners’ circle. We need to be intentional every step of the way to recruit, retain, and empower girls who never imagined their place at a summer robotics camp in middle school, an advanced placement computer science class in high school, or an engineering major in college.

Read Full Article…

Macaroni Kid of Hendrick County

NonProfit Spotlight: The STEM Connection

As parents we get excited when we find programs that will fit our kids perfectly. This happened to me when I can across The STEM Connection. I’m pretty sure my 5-year-old daughter is going to want to live there year round. It is a nonprofit organization that utilizes Moore Road Farm, their 30 acres of outdoor space, to inspire kids in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through hands-on, minds-on and feet-on-the-ground programming.

Different ecosystems are maintained including: deciduous forest, Eagle Creek, fields of crops, and gardens. This provides an array of educational opportunities for all ages.

Year-round programs like field trips, family hikes, after school STEM challenge clubs, traveling STEM experiences, and summer camps are focused on Indiana science standards, conservation and inspiring STEM careers. A few summer topics include: The Amazing Animal Kingdom, What Can You Be?, and Citizen Scientist. As a parent, I love that it is a balance of learning but also spending the summer outside.

We are happy to now be including their programs on our calendar and summer camp guide:

You can also find more information on their website…

National After School Association

Spring has sprung! The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting brighter. It’s great to play and learn outside. Unfortunately, time spent outdoors is becoming a rare commodity for our young people. Full disclosure: I may be old. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s—and back then, playing meant playing outside.

Endangered in Indiana: Will these animals survive?

Indianapolis Prize draws attention to conservation efforts worldwide.

But you can help endangered species closer to home.

by Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star

On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Zoo will announce the winner of its 2016 Indianapolis Prize, a $250,000 award given every two years to an animal conservation scientist. The six finalists this year have devoted their lives to saving species around the world: Large mammals in the Arctic. Penguins in Argentina. Birds and turtles in Mauritius. Seahorses in the Philippines. Marine life. Snow leopards.

But one does not have to travel far to find endangered animal species. Several Indiana species, from mussels to a two-foot salamander, appear on state and or federal endangered lists.

Some animals, such as the trumpeter swan, appear on the state’s endangered list because they exist in such small numbers, said Warren Gartner, a conservation education supervisor with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. However, these swans have always been rare in Indiana.

But there are many species whose numbers have been dwindling over time.

Here are five examples — and what you can do to help.


Passport to Hi-Tech Event

Passport to Hi-Tech logo

Young Girls Have Opportunity to Explore STEM Interests and Careers

More than 1,200 girls, ages 7-12, are expected to explore STEM interests, careers on March 5 at Passport to Hi-Tech!

FISHERS, Ind. (Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016/Conner Prairie) – Jocelyn Dunn is well on her way to becoming an astronaut, a dream she’s had since she was a young girl. At age 28, the Purdue University industrial engineering doctoral student has accomplished some impressive feats, earning a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and living eight months in a simulated Martian habitat.

In 2014, Dunn and a team of five other researchers lived in abandoned quarry about 8,000 feet above sea level in a domed structure on a volcano slope on the Big Island of Hawaii. The team was part of a NASA-funded study of human factors that affect team performance during long-term space travel, like a mission to Mars.

“We as a team went out and explored the area in full space suits as if we were the first Mars explorers,” Dunn said. “We would get tasks assigned to us from our Mission Control and explore the terrain. This was the most astronaut-like thing that we did and the most enjoyable part for me was putting on the suit and feeling all of the physical and mental challenges of exploring.”

Nearly 1,200 girls with aspirations mirroring Dunn’s when she was young can talk with female science and technology leaders and participate in hands-on, interactive activities March 5 at the third annual Passport to Hi-Tech, a partnership between Conner Prairie and Women & Hi Tech.

Passport to Hi-Tech is an event for girls ages 7 to 12 to learn about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The event runs from 10 am to 5 pm inside Conner Prairie’s Welcome Center, located at 13400 Allisonville Road in Fishers, IN. Free for museum members, general admission is $8. Admission for area Girl Scouts in uniform and their family members is $6.

Girls can participate in hands-on experiments and interactive exhibits throughout the day and explore biology, chemistry, engineering, manufacturing, computer science and other disciplines.

At 30 stations located throughout the museum’s Welcome Center, girls can engage with female experts and professionals working in STEM-related fields and ask questions, help with hands-on experiments, participate in interactive tasks and learn more about careers. Girls will have their passports stamped after visiting each station, helping them decide what fields they found most interesting.

In addition to Dunn, several other female STEM leaders and achievers will be present at Passport to Hi-Tech, including Mikaela Gilbert, a student at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University who as a high school senior launched a business called Chatter Eggs, and Lisa Laughner, founder, president and CEO of Go Electric, a green-tech startup developing energy services solutions that accelerate a renewable energy future.

Passport to Hi-Tech is sponsored by Roche and supported by technology hosts Dow AgroSciences, Cummins, Garrity Tool, Rolls-Royce, CIM System Robotics, Eleven Fifth Academy, Lilly, CE Solutions, Go Electric and Angie’s List. Education hosts include Indiana University, Purdue University, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indiana State University, Butler University, Ivy Tech, Marian University, Anderson University and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. Program hosts include Girl Scouts of central Indiana, Engineering for Kids, STEM Scouts, INFirst Robotics, 1st Maker Space, Video Game Palooza, Microsoft Store, Starbase Indiana and Link Observatory.

For more, visit

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2018 Awards

-SYPF Grant recipient 2016, 2017, 2018

-River-Friendly Farmer Award from the local Soil and Water Conservation District. This award recognizes farmers who, through good protection management practices, kelp keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean.

-2018 McKinney Family Foundation Scholarship award recipient to attend Fundraising and Advocacy for Environmental Nonprofits offered by The Fund Raising School

IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

2017 Awards

-Joe Wright Recognition of Excellence Award by the Environmental Educators Association of Indiana

-Hoosier Chapter Soil And Water Conservation Society’s Education and Communications award for 2017!

-SYPF grant recipient 2016, 2017

-Intern, Madeline Anderson – 2017 Excellence in Summer Service Education Award Recipient


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