We just had our GABI RET orientation, 2015, for cohort 4 in Santa Cruz, CA. The purpose of the orientation was to meet all educators, go over key scientific research purposes, and to clarify questions about logistics. We were also lucky to have had the opportunity to do field work at Capitola Beach lead by Dr. Jonathan Hendricks from San Jose State University. In addition to new educators joining our team, we had some of our wonderful educators from previous years who joined us for the fun.
The orientation took place at Digital NEST. “The Digital NEST (Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology) is a high-tech space located in the heart of Watsonville” (http://digitalnest.org/what-is-the-digital-nest/), available for free to students in the area. The director, Jacob Martinez, open the doors of the NEST for us to have our meeting. The agenda was as follows:
8:00-8:30: Coffee and Greetings (wake up time!)
8:30-9:00: Introductions and Lago Alajuela (Bruce MacFadden)
9:00-9-30: Panama translated to the classroom (Megan Hendrickson)
9:30-10:00: Panama through NGSS lens (Karen Schmidt)
10:00-10:30: NGSS Basics (Sallie Corbin)
10:30-11:00: Cone shells from Panama (Jon Hendricks)
11:00-11:30: Logistics and gabiret.com (Claudia Grant)
11:30-12:30: Lunch and time for Q&A
12:30: Head over to Capitola Beach for fieldwork. Lead by Jon Hendricks.
After lunch, and trying to get on time to hit low tide, we head over to Capitola Beach where Dr. Hendricks talked to us about the geography and stratigraphy of the place. In addition, we spent some time identifying invertebrate and vertebrate fossils in the area. This field trip was very significant for local teachers because it allowed them to learn about this unique locality, and most importantly, provided ideas and opportunities to bring their own students to preform fieldwork as well. We talked about having a student-designed “Field Guide to Capitola,” and we are looking into ways to make that happen. Student-lead projects have been empirically proven to enhance students’ learning and motivation.
On day two, we spent time visiting local teachers’ classrooms. Understanding student’s population and classroom dynamics is a crucial component of our orientation because other teachers can find inspiration and new ideas on daily activities for their own students. For us, project coordinators, it gives us background information on how to better serve each individual teacher in order to bring the field experience into the classroom.
We visited the following schools:
Branciforte Middle School
Mar Vista Elementary School
Watsonville High School
Alianza Charter School
Rolling Hills Middle School
We are excited to announce that this year we have invited an elementary school teacher and an art teacher. Our secondary teachers, through out these years, have developed several lessons for middle and high school students. We now need to go back on those lessons and create the elementary version. The purpose of this is to create earth science curriculum from K to 12 following the idea of progressions proposed by the NGSS framework. STEAM ideas are prevalent and relevant; the connections between STEM and Art are important, and this year an art teacher who has a biology teaching credential will help us identify where art can serve as a learning tool for the sciences. We are stoked!
The orientation was a huge success and we thank NSF, previous and new teachers, scientists, and all others who made this possible.