Authentic, Hands-on Environmental Science

by Anita Brown, Program Officer

“As a teacher in an underserved school district, my students are faced with several challenges inside and outside of the four walls of my classroom. In fact, their zip code often limits their ability to achieve their goals, as they have not all had access to an equitable education. Despite the many challenges they face, I am looking to provide my students with the science education they deserve…. My students need an authentic, hands-on learning experience to supplement their unit on climate change and its impacts.” – Ashlyn Brulato, Teacher at Roosevelt Middle School

This school year, PVF introduced a new teacher grant program: the Environmental Science Resource Grant, made possible with funding from the Lampert Byrd Foundation.

Through this program, grants of up to $500 are awarded to teachers to enhance classroom environmental science curriculum.

Ashlyn Brulato, a sixth grade Science, Technology, Engineering, and Design teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland, had the idea to invite experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to visit her classroom and teach her students about “aquatic ecosystems in the Bay and how they are currently and will be impacted by climate change as well as what they can do to help preserve these ecosystems.” Through the Sharkmobile and Ocean Acidification presentations, 80 sixth grade students discussed and discovered shark adaptations and genuine shark artifacts, and they watched real footage of white shark research at the Farallon Islands. They studied and presented on how sharks are affected by ocean pollution, especially garbage patches. Students also looked at live plankton samples from the Bay under a microscope, learned “how increasing acidity affects ocean food webs and larval stages of organisms,” and conducted experiments about the changing chemistry and biology of the earth’s oceans.

Ashlyn reported, “The presentations were focused on the impact of climate change in the Bay Area, which is what our unit of study is on…. The students LOVED both programs and were engaged the entire time. They continue to reference their learnings in class, even weeks later, and love following up with NOAA’s research in the news.”

At PVF, we are proud to support students’ environmental education in this way, and we look forward to hearing about the impact of these grants as the school year continues.

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