The 5th season of KiDS is underway! We have over 50 UC Davis student volunteers this season and 15 students engaged in the curriculum and outreach seminar. Innovations this year include new quantitative assessment methods and a unit on soil biota that we will pilot in April 2015.
We’re always looking for new volunteers! Contact me if you are interested in participating. Lessons are taught in Lower Lake every Friday January through mid April and our field day at the McLaughlin Natural Reserve is April 17.
Bringing Hands-on Science to Lower Lake Elementary Students
Our Kids into Discovering Science (KiDS) all-volunteer outreach program brings the enthusiasm and expertise of UC researchers and a hands-on science curriculum to underserved Lower Lake Elementary in Lake County. Check out the article on our program published in spring of 2014: Davis Volunteers Help Underserved Kids Discover Science
Engaging KiDS to Scientific Questioning
Each year since 2011, UC graduate and undergraduate student volunteers have taught 9 in-class lessons in each of the 5th grade classrooms at Lower Lake, building student’s knowledge and interest in core curriculum areas of science, math, and critical thinking through a student-led experiment on plant biology and ecology. Students are engaged in biological curiosity, hypothesis testing, and the scientific process. The science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics that we focus on have been highlighted by the classroom teachers as areas in which they need the most support. Students develop hypotheses, build an experiment, collected data, and learn to test their hypotheses by calculating averages and graphing results. The classroom experimental program culminates in a full day of hands on science activities outside at McLaughlin Natural Reserve led by UC graduate students in ecology, evolution, geology, plant science, entomology. On the field day, elementary students hike, explore pond life, and conduct an experiment on food webs in different habitat types, connecting many of the concepts that they learned in the classroom to in-the-field observations.
Our program builds the connection between UC Davis researchers and 5th graders, yet KiDS serves a broad spectrum of participants including teachers, students, and parents at Lower Lake Elementary and undergraduates, graduate students, and UC faculty. Alarmed that there was no existing outreach program for Lower Lake, despite its close proximity to the McLaughlin Natural Reserve, we established the program to provide access for children in this economically and socially challenged and very diverse geographic region. The children are the primary recipients of our ecology program, however, UC students and staff also benefit through this opportunity to practice translating science and teach non-scientists. On the UC Davis campus, research staff (K. Moore) volunteers to led a concurrent seminar for undergraduate and graduate student participants to build their skills in outreach, science communication, curriculum development and assessment. Many of the UC volunteers for KiDS participate in the seminar and are the leading members of the outreach team. Thus our program has two interacting sets of goals:
Goals for Lake County Students:
1) Engage and empower elementary students in science as a process of discovery and questioning
2) Introduce elementary students to the diverse backgrounds, educational paths and goals of early career UC scientists
3) Foster a sense of place by focusing on the unique ecology of Lake County
4) Promote academic achievement of low-income and under-served students through hands-on science
Goals for UC Davis Students:
1) Develop skills at communicating science to non-scientist children, teachers, and parents
2) Engage in multiple facets of elementary education including curriculum development, instruction, and assessment
3) Broaden student perspective on their own career goals and educational path