UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Franklin School fifth graders got to get their hands wet and even a little slimy, all in the name of science. The Kids In Nature program at UCSB is focused on teaching under-served youth in the community about the outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains and everything in between. "What does it feel like?" asked Alyssa Hall, a Kids In Nature intern.
"Squishy!" replied the fifth grader holding a sea cucumber. "They love the different textures and the feelings because things you find in the ocean aren't things you can find anywhere else. It's great that we have this kind of facility that allows them to touch a sea hair and see what a sea cucumber is and touch a shark. Like who touches a shark? So, it's exciting," said Hall.
During the year-long and hands-on program, the students will learn both in and out of the classroom. But taking them outdoors really peaks their interest. "There's only so much talking I can do in the classroom and so much reading they can do out of their book," said Katie Booser, Franklin School fifth grade teacher. "Because in the book you can't really see them in real life and see how they live," said 10-year-old Danny Juan.
The program not only lets the young students learn, but their instructors are also students themselves. They are UCSB undergrads learning how to teach science. "One of my roles as a Kids In Nature intern and docent is to mentor these undergraduate students who come into this class having had zero experience teaching anyone and really showing them how to connect to the students and how to make those learning goals achieved," explained Hall.
As the elementary and college students learn together, they have fun while doing it. "Wow! He's feisty!" exclaimed Danny. "I know he is feisty!" his student-teacher responded. In two weeks the UCSB students who taught the fifth graders on Tuesday morning about the ocean, will go to Franklin School to do a follow up on all their findings.