Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Growing Young Minds and a Passion for Science Education

Carla Redden | Undergraduate, Geology

Teaching the bright students at Indianapolis Public Schools’ Joyce Kilmer Academy, Carla Redden has learned just as much as about herself as her students have about the environment and world around them.  The geology major has spent many days of her senior year teaching third to sixth grade students about science concepts through hands-on experiences.

Carla is an education outreach assistant through the School of Science’s Center for Earth and Environmental Science  (CEES). Before joining the CEES program, Carla had placed teaching on a list of several ideas for future careers.  

“I wasn’t sure it was something I was cut out for,” she said. “But these experiences in the classroom have made me really want to teach.”Carla Redden

She credits Pamela Martin, director of CEES and associate professor of earth sciences, for encouraging her through the program at IPS to pursue this career path. 

At the urban IPS school, Carla loves to give students trick questions and see how they problem-solve for the correct answer.

“I like making kids think, knowing that in the future their critical thinking skills may lead to something brilliant,” she said. “It’s very motivating for me, knowing that I am responsible for helping to teach kids this important skill that will impact their future in a great way.”

Carla is sharing a personal passion with the students—gardening. The students are learning about the seeds and plants and what it takes to grow food.  Carla is also enrolled in Martin’s earth sciences course Undergraduate Seminar: Feeding the City.  The seminar addresses sustainability based on the current food systems.

“It helps me to understand where the food I eat comes from and the consequences of eating a cheeseburger vs. an apple or orange or the consequences of nutrient budgeting and pesticide use,” she explained. “Also, since there’s more to be learned everyday about food and the environmental impacts, the class becomes a continuous learning process.” She’s sharing these concepts with the IPS students as they work in the school’s garden and explore sustainability science.

“Carla has brought enthusiasm and creativity along with a solid knowledge of science to the elementary students,” Martin said. “I was thrilled when Carla told me she would be pursing teaching after she finishes her B.S. in geology.” 

Martin also sees the benefit teaching has had on Carla as a student in her undergraduate seminar.  “From leading classes, Carla knows how it feels to be faced with silence and she is quick to help get a discussion started and risk an answer in which she may not be sure is correct.”  

The hands-on experiences in the classroom have prepared Carla to pursue a teaching certificate after graduating. She is applying to IUPUI’s Transition to Teaching Program, a 15-month program that will prepare to her to earn a teaching license.

Carla is an active member of the Geology Club, which has offered her the opportunity to participate in activities such as kayaking, hiking, spelunking and caving, and fossil and geode collecting. For fun, she enjoys running, reading and growing a garden at home.

“The coolest thing about being a science student is that it allows me to communicate with people who are just as passionate about science as I am,” Carla said. “My major is geology, and there aren’t a lot of people who I can talk to outside of my department who share my passion for the study of our beautiful Earth.”