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 Outreach Team Brings STEM to 44,000 Students

Education Outreach outreach teamOutdoor Education Outreach team members have some fun aboard the SPLASH! Science Mobile Lab.

You might say the Outdoor Education Outreach team’s school year is one long road trip. They log miles covering all corners of the county — from Boulevard to Ramona, Warner Springs to  Rancho Santa Fe, Camp Pendleton to Chula Vista, and much more. Some assignments have taken them to Riverside, Bakersfield, and San Jose.

But it’s not the amount of miles traveled that matters to the team. It’s the whopping 44,000 students they will serve by the end of the 2016-17 school year.

"It’s been our biggest year yet," Outdoor Education Project Specialist Janice Duvall said.

The Outdoor Education Outreach team — Duvall, along with a program assistant and more than a dozen teacher assistants (TAs) — hosted more than 400 STEM-based presentations over the past nine months at schools and community events, including the massive EarthFair in Balboa Park.

The programs include SPLASH! Science Mobile Lab, Green Machine, EnviroSchool, Recycling Assemblies, and Energy Upgrade assemblies. The Outreach team also coordinates excursions on the Marine Science Floating Lab. The Outreach team partners with numerous agencies for its work, including Energy Upgrade California, the City of San Diego Department of Environmental Services, water districts, the San Diego Zoo, and others.

"We bring community concerns into the classrooms, to the kids, which brings meaning to their STEM education," Duvall said.

Kids are particularly concerned with drought. "We bring it into the classroom and talk about what we’re doing to prevent running out of water," Duvall said. "The discussion is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, a lot of which have to do with human impact."

Such issues get students thinking as problem-solvers. "We talk about careers; we talk about inventions; we talk about problems to solve," she said. "That’s going to get their brain working. It’s exciting and inspiring."

Amy Tran has worked in the Outdoor Education department for several years, and she found the Outreach work as valuable to her as it was to the students.

"When the students rush to you after the presentation ends and offer to help clean while they explain to you that they already know it’s important to turn off the lights when they walk out of a room or that they remember to turn off the water while they’re brushing their teeth, it makes everything worthwhile," she said.

Added TA Yareli Munoz: "Outdoor Ed Outreach is a beautiful department, and all the TAs give more than 100 percent to every student."

By the Numbers: Outdoor Education Outreach 2016-17
Through May 2017

Community events: 6,170 visitors
Community Landfill Tours: 516 attendees
Energy Upgrade: 7,814 students
EnviroTours: 1,485 students
EnviroSchool: 1,792 students
Green Machine: 6,701 students
SPLASH! Science Mobile Lab: 7,256 students
Marine Science Floating Lab: 7,070 students
Zero Waste Assemblies: 1,991 students