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Environmental Volunteers: Filling the Gaps in Science Education
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Nominated by the TerraPass team

There is a lack of science education in public schools. Due to inadequate training, 80 percent of San Francisco Bay Area teachers devote less than 60 minutes per week to science. Teachers turn to nonprofit organizations to help meet their needs.

The Environmental Volunteers shares the wonders of environmental science with schoolchildren, sparking interest in discovery of the natural world. This wonderful organization reaches over 11,000 students annually and is transforming environmental science education in the Bay Area.

This year, the Environmental Volunteers spearheaded Science by Nature, a world changing collaboration of 13 independent organizations (a majority of the environmental and science nonprofits in their region) which will collectively provide students with multiple classroom and field study programs, delivering more frequent and diverse environmental science experiences than any one organization could provide.

EVstarfish.jpgLater this summer, a new website (see beta) with a searchable database will offer the programs of all collaboration partners and provide teachers recommended sequences to maximize science education effectiveness. The site will even allow teachers to register for programs from all organizations using one common application.

This world changing project is scaling environmental science education; increasing science hours in the classrooms; inspiring environmental stewardship; and saving resources through its collaborative approach.

Bonus haiku:

Teachers are searching,
Website collaboration.
Knowledge! Please give grant.

Images: Hands-on experiences bring environmental education to life. At top right, a student uses a hands-free approach to experience the texture of a banana slug. At bottom left, a fourth grader feels the grip of a starfish in a marine science program.

This piece is part of Worldchanging's Attention Philanthropy campaign. All week long, the Worldchanging Network will be delivering "attention grants" to worthy projects, individuals, resources and more. You can learn more about these gifts of notice and find other entries by clicking here.

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I disagree with the statement that science is not being taught in elementary schools because the teachers are inadequately trained. Teachers are more than capable of conducting problem-based scientific discoveries. Aptitude is not the issue. It is time. Science is not being taught because each year school districts allocate more time to teaching reading, writing and math with the impetus of raising test scores. The minutes have to be subtracted from somewhere and unfortunately they are subtracted from, science, social studies and recess. The idea of volunteers coming in and conducting science labs would be wonderful and could be easily integrated into the math or literacy block as a learning station. It would ensure that the students were being engaged in science more frequently. I don't feel the volunteers time should be spent training teachers because with all the training in the world they would still not find the time to use their training to engage the students in science and social studies.

Posted by: Heather on 11 Jul 09

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