UCF-Nemours PedsAcademy hosts science fair for hospitalized students

A science fair of a different kind for a group of students who take extraordinary to another level.

On Thursday, the lobby of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando turned into a massive science, technology, and engineering demonstration highlighted by the work of several patients turned students in the hospital.

Those students’ science fair projects delved into topics ranging from space and architecture to the environment; some even trying to bring real change.

Ella Greene, 10, proudly showed off her project where she classified the birds in the Indian River Lagoon and studied their behaviors as they interacted with the environment there. Her work could even contribute to future work by scientists studying and preserving the clam beds in the river.

"One was a pelican,” said Greene going through her data, “it was doing something that was very weird."

Greene said she dreams of one day being a marine biologist. Unfortunately, her studies have had to take a back seat to her health over the last year.

"I had Ewing Sarcoma,” she said. “That's a bone cancer."

She and her mom Aleshia have been in and out of Nemours trying to get her health back on track, but a new program at the hospital is giving her the chance to keep learning.

The University of Central Florida just launched the PedsAcademy at Nemours. It’s a full time classroom and program at the hospital to allow the children continued education during their treatment.

"They have extraordinary opportunities,” said director and UCF Associate Professor Dr. Megan Nickels. "We have an in-house curriculum that's specific to their disease or condition. We're actually really holistically treating the child here."

Additionally, the students are getting to learn from college students and professors training in subjects they love and hope to pursue one day. Along with the science fair Thursday, many of those UCF students hosted a STEM day for the young patients at the hospital to let them get hands on with some science and expand their learning without ever leaving their treatment.

Along with growing her knowledge, Aleshia said it’s allowing Ella an escape and a distraction from her condition and her treatment.

"She's learning things about things that she really enjoys; she loves marine life!" said Aleshia.

Growing her health day-by-day, and Ella says getting step-by-step closer to her future helping marine life.