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 Outdoor Education Outreach Goes Virtual

Virtual Splash Science Lab and Green Machine Get Kids ‘Outdoors’

Why do water temperature and salinity matter? What’s the importance of green algae? Can you recall the process for photosynthesis?

If you can’t remember, maybe search for your old science book or better yet, sit in on a session of Outdoor Education’s virtual Splash Science Lab. Traditionally delivered in-person and with the opportunity forhands-on experiences, the team has revamped its content to deliver curriculum based on Next Generation Science Standards to students in a virtual environment.

“Students participate in the same activities, help conduct the same experiments, and ask questions as if our instructors were at the school,” said Outdoor Education Program Specialist Jonathan Witt. “We can also provide complementary activities that the students can do before or after the virtual program.”

The Splash Science Lab introduces students in grades 4-8 to scientific principles, natural systems, and environmental occurrences, specifically those affecting water resources in Southern California. The one-hour session covers those topics noted above, and more broadly, urban runoff, water quality, and biomagnification.

Outdoor Education started its virtual Splash Science Lab at the beginning of November and held a few sessions of its Green Machine program at the end of the month. Green Machine introduces students in grades K-3 to scientific principles, natural systems, and environmental occurrences, specifically those affecting food production.​

Outdoor Education instructor Syris Pelekai hopes that after participating in these labs, students “have a more complete understanding of the interconnectedness of the world around them and their ability to affect the world in which they live.”

Pelekai is teaching lessons from Outdoor Education’s new virtual classroom at the East County Regional Education Center. The team turned a small office into a virtual learning lab with speakers, microphones, and cameras so they could share lessons with county students via any virtual platform.

Pelekai said the most challenging part about teaching virtually is the literal barrier that the virtual space creates.

“There’s a level of one-on-one interaction with students that you can only cultivate when teaching in person,” he said. “I try to compensate for this by making sure that I take the time to address each student personally so that they can feel seen.”

To schedule the Splash Science Lab or Green Machine program, email