Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CalGirls Kick-Off Conference

I was so excited for the opportunity to be a part of the CalGirls Kick-Off Conference on November 1st! In fact, I'm still pretty fired up about it & am continuing to make connections and have conversations with other conference attendees about ways we can work together. Read about the conference here: (yes, that's a picture of me SERIOUSLY considering how to best set up our hydraulic powered pumpkin lift. Our team was super proud of our stable & effective outcome!)

In this breakout session, a Lawrence Hall of Science representative gave each of the 5 small groups their mission: to design and engineer a hydraulic lift to move a pumpkin. Everyone had access to an array of tools including blocks, pegs, platforms, syringes, rubber bands, paper clips, pipe cleaners, weights & a few more easily attainable tools. There were a few examples on the table so you could either choose to recreate an existing design or get some ideas & make your own. The mentor was present to offer some key guidance and support. We worked in our small groups, brainstorming, collaborating, building & improving our design until it passed our test and we decided we were finished. This is the basic structure behind the Lawrence Hall's Ingenuity Lab, and their satellite site in Vallejo; the Inventor's Lab (they also use engineer students from local colleges as mentors).

What did I learn from this exercise? First of all, experiences like these are incredibly fun, positive and confidence-building. Second, collaboration is key - this was completely a group effort where we built upon one another's input.
Lastly, accessibility is everything; the challenge, the setting, the group the tools & the mentor collectively make the experience productive & engaging.

Now - how can we create situations where kids in our community get to use science & engineering on a regular basis to create model solutions to real world problems? I hope to provide these opportunities to our MUSD students & welcome your support!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thank you for visiting the Martinez Community Science Workshop blogspot. We are working on setting up our pilot project at John Muir Elementary. We have secured a science classroom for the workshop. Currently, we have Eco-Lab Interns from the New Leaf Academy working with elementary students learning hands-on science. We're working on enhancing the environment to be able to open our workshop by this summer. Please contact Ellen Concepcion for more information

Whale Week at John Muir

Our inspiration for the Community Science Workshop model started with a collaborative effort from JME PTA's Wendy Dexter & Mission Science Workshop's Dan Sudran who put together Whale Week at John Muir Elementary in Martinez. 5th graders at John Muir helped assemble the grey whale skeleton before school in September. This display was part of an interactive science lesson sponsored by the PTA and facilitated by Dan Sudran, executive director of Mission Science Workshop. Wendy spearheaded the project & created a 68' model of a baby blue whale. Kids from all over the district & even kids outside the district came to John Muir for this exciting free event. 

The excellent turnout told us that our community is excited about science & that opportunities for hands-on science are rare around town. At any given time during this free  five hour event, there were 20 - 30 kids inside the blue whale model learning about whales from one of our volunteers, and another dozen or so kids looking at the grey whale skeleton display. There were also a few other interactive opportunities like a blubber experiment that received nonstop attention. This event started a conversation that we hope will turn into our very own community science workshop. 

Here's a short video clip of puttting the whale skeleton together