Cold Spring is the Indianapolis Public Schools Environmental Studies magnet school. Nestled on several acres of land between Marian University and Interstate 65, the school has flourished in the last few years with updated grounds, new outside programs and renewed partnerships with Marian, environmental organizations and Friends of Cold Spring.
Students at Cold Spring explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields with an outside twist. Instead of sitting in the classroom, teachers take their lessons outdoors and use nature as an application.
No one does that better than Cold Spring Physical Education teacher (and Cold Spring Teacher of the Year) Jim Moyer. Now that the weather has turned nice, you can find Moyer’s P.E. classes outside, riding bikes.
Moyer has also brought other fun activities to Cold Spring including kayaking down the wide creek on Cold Spring’s campus, which the students do on Partners in Environment (PIE) Day.
PIE Day is just one of the ways that outside organizations can get involved in the environmental education of students at Cold Spring.
Plus, the students love PIE Day.
“We eat stone soup, make s’mores, and go hiking. Plus one time we got to swing on ropes, and I felt like I was Tarzan,” Cold Spring student Shon C. said.
How often can a student say he or she had a Tarzan-like experience?
But that’s just a normal response to the learning that’s happening at Cold Spring.
Environmental Education isn’t limited to Cold Spring, Harshman Magnet Middle School and Arsenal Technical High School also have rewarding programs.
Harshman students can take one of two classes in Agricultural/Environmental education. They can also participate in the National FFA Organization, the largest student organization in the country.
These classes at the middle school level provide an introduction to the courses offered at Arsenal Tech’s STAR Academy.
STAR Academy students learn about plant, animal and food science as they progress through the four-year program. The students also have hands-on learning experiences working with the Academy’s animals (chickens, rabbits and fish) and in the on-campus greenhouse.
“It’s not just textbook work. We work with the animals and plants and also do things in the community,” STAR Academy student Maiya C. said. “I want to be a veterinarian, so this program is helping provide a foundation for my future.”
Kaylee B. agrees, “Agriculture plays a big part in many jobs. You may not think it relates, but it does. This program opens up the door to a type of education that you won’t normally find in the city. It challenges us to look at the environment from a different angle.”
STAR Academy teacher Sonya Lord grew up on a farm in Shelby County. Her family raised sheep, poultry and cattle and also grew corn and soybeans. She knows a thing or two about agriculture and now works to instill her knowledge in the younger generation.
“The best thing about my job is hearing the chorus of ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’” Lord said. “Almost every day one of my students has a light bulb moment, and I like it. It shows they’re learning something new.”
Those new bits of knowledge can be anything from witnessing how a plant reacts to different amounts of water or sunlight, to comparing prices on grocery store items and even learning the multiple ways to cook an egg.
The light bulb moments carry over into the hands-on experiences too. Dealing with animals and even plants can be a dirty job.
“At the beginning a lot of my students don’t want to get dirty or don’t want to touch certain things,” Lord said. “By the end of the year they get into it. They love it; they love getting their hands dirty.”
We’re proud of Cold Spring and STAR Academy for their willingness to bring new knowledge and outside experiences to students!