Bringing Smiles to Science Day: A Story from Garfield Elementary

October 1, 2015
  “Is it science day yet?” “How many more days till we have science?” This fall, the EV is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula to bring hands-on science and nature education to 3rd graders in their after school program. The students at Garfield Elementary School in Redwood City are very excited when the EV arrives each Thursday with new hands-on learning activities in tow. So excited, in fact, that every day (beginning Monday) they count down to “science day.” The majority of Garfield students live in a neighborhood called North Fair Oaks. Students in this community rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to explore the natural world outside of their own neighborhood. The B&GC has begun to do their part to stimulate the students’ curiosity by bringing a STEM coordinator on board. Because the students speak Spanish as their primary language, teachers and coordinators of the B&GC often lead programming in both English and Spanish. The EV has worked with coordinators and staff to make science programs exciting and relatable. In the process, we discovered that the students had little knowledge about Baylands Ecology and Water Science. But that is quickly changing. On Thursdays, the after school program bursts into smiles and cheers when EV volunteers arrive with kits like Wetlands in a Pan. The students see our visit not as “class”, but as a fun and stimulating extra-curricular experience. They have been captivated by the EV’s learning kits; often remembering lessons from week 1 in week 3! Their understanding of science concepts has allowed our volunteers to build upon learning that had already been established in prior weeks. Two kits in particular have been a BIG deal for the students: – Bay Mud: students have loved getting their hands dirty and finding the various creatures that live in the bay mud. – Water Cycle: Students not only began to understand what the Water Cycle is, but in our activity, students are able to experiment with evaporation and condensation first hand. With the EV growing and expanding the reach of our programming, we are always looking for opportunities to connect with new communities. We recognize that bringing learning into the community is vitally important because transportation and other constraints make it difficult for learners to access off-site science education. By working in after school programs, outside of our traditional scope of the classroom, the EV is able to reinforce learning that children have received inside of their classrooms for years. We thank the EV volunteers and our partners at the B&GC for making a difference in the life of students at Garfield Elementary. In the future, the EV hopes to bring community programs to more after school sites. Interested in helping out? Contact to learn more. With your support, we can bring more smiles to “science day”!