Creek restoration project begins with school-wide planting days, Nov. 15 & 16

What can we do to make our environment healthier? UCLA Lab School students of all ages will help address that question on Monday, Nov. 15, and Tuesday, Nov. 16, as they take part in a school-wide planting day.

In partnership with the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the Santa Monica Baykeeper, the students will work on restoring an area around Stone Canyon Creek where they will replace invasive, non-native vegetation with native plants.

“This is an exciting learning opportunity for our students,” said Principal Norma Silva. “We’re very fortunate to have such a compelling living laboratory right outside our classroom doors, and we want to take advantage of that while also doing something for the greater good.”

Part of the Ballona Creek watershed, Stone Canyon Creek has its origins in the hills of Brentwood and continues through part of the UCLA campus and west Los Angeles, eventually reaching the ocean. During the 1930s and 1940s, construction forced most of the creek underground. Replacing the invasive vegetation with native plants around the remaining natural portion can benefit the environment by providing a habitat to birds and other wildlife and improving the quality of the water.

The students’ restoration project builds on a year-long research investigation conducted by 8- to 10-year-old students with Santa Monica Baykeeper as part of a grant from the National Science Foundation called “Making Science.” The students’ research involved testing the quality of the water in the creek, formulating hypotheses, documenting their observations and reporting on their work.

Silva and teachers are planning further components for the project with an eye toward sharing the work with other schools. “There are many opportunities to adapt this work for other environments, whether the resources are large or small,” Silva said. “It’s a great way to provide an authentic context for learning and to help children develop as thoughtful, active citizens of the world.”