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S3 Episode 03: MADScientists: Fertilizers and Water Quality

Four sixth grade students in Naperville, Illinois discuss their experiment comparing phosphorus runoff from natural and artificial fertilizers. They entered their research in the U.S. Army’s eCyberMission competition. As one of only five sixth grade National Finalist Teams, they  competed in nationals in Virginia the week of June 17-22, 2018 and won first place in their division! Congratulations to the MADScientists!

This episode is part of Series 3: Celebrating Earth Day. For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

The four students in the order in which they spoke in this interview are:  Diya, Siya, Meera and Anjali.

(L to R): Diya and Siya

(L to R): Meera and Anjali

The students are from Kennedy and Madison Junior High Schools in Naperville, and call themselves the MADScientists. Currently in sixth grade, they share a passion for scientific research, and began their own research while in 5th grade. Their curiosity has led them to study environmental issues, specifically, how fertilizers can pollute our ponds, lakes and streams.   

They first contacted the Naperville Park District in fall 2017 when they heard about the Park District’s Sustainable Parks Initiative to maintain playgrounds and 8 parks with only organic products. They met with our staff and with staff from the City of Naperville’s water department for advice on their research and then presented their preliminary results in February to a small audience including Park District and City staff, Mayor Chirico, Councilwoman Patty Gustin and Park District Executive Director Ray McGury.

Those of us who saw their presentation were impressed with their energy and passion for scientific study and their desire to use science to help solve a real problem. We are excited that they can share this with our listeners.

The students’ parent advisor is Dr. Srimani Chakravarthi.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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