Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS THROUGH INTERACTIVE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
Undergraduate students involved in the Environmental Sciences Teaching Program (ESTP) at the University of California, Berkeley participate in a wide array of exceptional science programs that continually appeal to teachers and students of all ages throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. From educating outdoors at a wetland preserve to teaching on campus for a Saturday academy, undergraduates volunteer their time and knowledge in order to expose students to their surrounding environment. Spanning 475 acres, the ecologically diverse Dow Wetland Preserve in Antioch, CA is a valuable educational resource for students. Acting as an outdoor lab, students and teachers receive a hands-on experience by utilizing their senses to further enhance observational skills. The Learner Centered School, a K-8 charter school, uses the Dow Wetland Preserve as their sole science curricula. The students and teachers get a firsthand look at local ecosystems, practice water quality testing techniques, and take part in restoration of the wetland. The Dow Wetland Preserve gives the students a tangible perspective on the many facets of science. ESTP also partakes in CalSci, a nine-week Saturday academy geared toward high school students throughout the Bay Area. The primary objectives of the program are to promote interest and enhance knowledge in the sciences and strengthen college preparatory skills. Participants voluntarily learn in a nonstandard classroom environment, working in small groups of 4 to 6, each led by a college student mentor. This strategy allows for increased individual attention and one-on-one tutoring while encouraging student interaction and participation. ESTP undergraduates benefit by getting the opportunity to reinforce their knowledge and emphasize the relation of science with real-life situations. The peer education techniques were supplemented with hands-on activities, such as water quality testing and benthic macroinvertebrate sampling in Strawberry Creek. These stimulating exercises complemented classroom lectures by providing exposure to the practical application of scientific principles. After the 9-week session, CalSci students gained confidence in their studies, improved study skills, and increased their involvement in the sciences.