Engaging Students in the Natural History Museum’s Citizen Science Program
Citizen science is the wave of the future with legions of ordinary citizens working with scientists to collect data for the purpose of conservation. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has an extraordinary citizen science program engaging thousands in studying LA’s urban wildlife so that officials can make better policy decisions for a sustainable future. For the past year, I’ve been accompanying my middle and high school research writing students on species cataloguing outings from fungi to birds. Most recently, we attended an event at Los Angeles City Hall for BioBlitz LA — a summer project with the goal of collecting and recording at least 10,000 species photos from around the city! We took a tour of City Hall and learned more about local government while we were at it.
I’m encouraging other educators to get their students engaged in the Natural History Museum’s citizen science program — though it’s just as fun for adults! The next program is coming up on August 29. You can read more about the program and our recent BioBlitz LA outing in the Beverly Press HERE. And get involved directly with the Citizen Science program HERE.
Literature for Life Issue 3 Has Launched!
Literature for Life, the online literary journal and resource for educators for which I am Managing Editor, has launched its third issue! The issue features fiction, nonfiction and poetry works from 10 writers and 9 artists, many of them Los Angeles locals. The featured authors include: Janet Fitch, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Bronwyn Mauldin, Rebecca Gonzales, Yvonne Estrada, Conrad Romo, Joel Jacobsen, Doug Benerofe, Elsa Valmidiano, and Keenan Norris. The artists include Scott Gandell, Sherry Giang, Jennifer Swain, Christopher Perez, Graeme Fordyce, Walter Askin, Alexander Lee, Nery Gabriel Lemus, and Ester Petschar. Curriculum for Middle and High School educators for each of the stories will be posted soon. Stay tuned!
Read the issue now at www.LiteratureforLife.net!
Seeking Funds to Run a Leadership Program for High School Girls in Malawi, Africa
This last year, I had the pleasure of sitting down with two extraordinary people, Marie Da Silva and Luc Deschamps, President and Executive Director, respectively, of Jacaranda Primary & Secondary School in Malawi, East Africa. Jacaranda serves over 400 AIDS orphans, annually, and has enjoyed incredible success. Marie was recognized as a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2008 for her work. Despite the school’s success, teenage girls continue to have the school’s highest dropout rate due to various social pressures.
Working with Marie and Luc, I developed a leadership program proposal for Jacaranda to spend several months working with their students, teachers, student guardians, community leaders, and local universities to create a pilot, sustainable leadership program that continuously builds a network for the girls’ success. The program will include workshops, activities, discussions, mentoring, and community projects. Teachers, administrators, and others will participate in developing the program as we go along.
Why is this important? Much research shows that the health of a community and its environment is linked to the status and education of the women living in the community. The health of Africa is increasingly key to the health of our planet, overall, and it is critical to engage communities in creating innovative models for human development. On a more personal level, I simply believe that girls deserve to have great opportunities and I’m excited to be able to work with a school to make this happen.
Jacaranda School is supported by the nonprofit Jacaranda Foundation based in the United States. If you are interested in reading the full leadership program proposal and possibly supporting the program, please contact me directly.