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Purdue Earthonauts teach "H20: The Universal Resource" to teens

Multidisciplinary Purdue Earthonauts with IE PhD candidate Jocelyn Dunn (right)
Multidisciplinary Purdue Earthonauts
(l to r): Chris Kulesza (Earthonauts VP and Political Science PhD student), Erich Huebner (Board Member and Purdue Hub Liaison for Research Computing ), Kelly Rickey, (Secretary and ME PhD alumna), Katie Chustak (Co-Founder and Board Member), Mike Turner (Entrepreneur & Treasurer), and Jocelyn Dunn (Co-Founder, President, & IE PhD Candidate)
The Purdue “Earthonauts” recently held their second outreach event at the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center in Crown Point, IN. Six volunteers worked with center participants on three sustainability activities.

IE PhD Candidate Jocelyn Dunn co-founded the non-profit organization Earthonauts along with Katie Chustak of Purdue Ag Education and Sustainable Food and Farming Systems. Earthonauts is a new STEM initiative that provides educational programs and develops supportive relationships to promote health and community. Sustainability is a core focus for many industrial engineers, as it contributes to improving one’s community.

For this October 1 event, the Earthonauts followed up the July 30 inaugural outreach where they had helped some residents install two hydroponic flower "trees" of PVC pipes and a water pump. The trees stand in the cafeteria so the teen residents can share the responsibility of taking care of them and can watch daily progress.

This second event was broken up into three lessons on various sustainability topics. The first lesson introduced the Earthonauts program and discussed hydroponics systems.

The second lesson focused on studying the movement of water on Earth, identifying the components of the hydrologic cycle (including the local watershed), and discussing water pollution and the proper disposal of chemicals.

In the final lesson, Earthonauts taught the participants about using pH as an indicator of water quality, tested various household items including the hydroponic system water, and showed them how to maintain the hydroponic system.

After the event, an Earthonaut wrote: "Earthonauts is sooo rewarding - it's an amazing experience and doesn't feel like work at all...I wish I could come back there every day...We look forward to the day when we have steady funding and can have a group working on Earthonauts outreach full-time."

Perhaps the best comment came from one of the residents, who wrote about what she learned and added "Please come back again!"

The next Earthonaut event will be November 12 from 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM and will be focused on the core values of resilience and adaptability. Interested in volunteering? Contact Jocelyn Dunn.

Writer: DeEtte Starr,

Earthonauts feel the awe of realizing that we are all astronauts traveling together on this spacecraft called Earth, foster the development of astronaut-like superpowers to thrive in today’s complex world, and lead community development and health initiatives. Earthonauts provide educational programs and develop supportive relationships to promote health and community. They are university students, business owners, educators, and political activists, from Indiana, Michigan, Washington D.C., Florida, and Canada – so far.

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