Making Science with Students, Teachers and UCLA Researchers
It’s a late spring afternoon and some busy scientists have gathered to report their findings on experiments they conducted in recent months. An array of carefully planned and organized posters documenting the work are displayed around the room. After a brief meeting the scientists circulate to discuss their projects.
That was the scene when Intermediate students met to share their research on the health of the “gulley,” a portion of Stone Canyon Creek that runs through the UCLA Lab School campus and eventually makes its way to the ocean.
Students investigated questions and formulated solutions. They looked at, for example, the levels of algae, oxygen, and chlorine in the water; how trash affects water flow; and what types of wildlife live in and around the creek.
Demonstration teacher Genevieve D’Arcy brought the idea for the long-term project to her colleagues after hearing a presentation by Mark Abramson, Director of Watershed Programs for Santa Monica Baykeeper, an environmental organization working to restore the creek.
As a teacher and researcher she saw a twofold purpose: give children an exciting, meaningful way to learn about science concepts, and provide insight for an innovative research study she was working on with GSE&IS Professors Noel Enyedy and Bill Sandoval. Called Making Science, the study is funded by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation. It looks at children’s notions of data and how scientific arguments are made.
“The big sell for the students was getting to work on a project involving the gully, and the fact that we were doing real science experiments,” D’Arcy said.
It turned out to be a good fit. The children’s enthusiasm resulted in rich information for the research team; and for many the project sparked or deepened a concern for the natural environment. After learning that too much chlorine in the water is damaging the gulley’s ecosystem, the students are planning a letter writing campaign to find out who is responsible for putting the chemical there, and how it can be removed.
Stay tuned for more results!