EcoVoices for the Discovery Center Offers Environmental Education Programming for Youth
South El Monte -
The San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority and the Youth Science Center have collaborated in creating a new environmental science expedition program for youth called EcoVoices, featuring inquiry-driven ecological expeditions every Thursday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Whittier Narrows Nature Center, 1000 Durfee Avenue, So. El Monte, CA 90033. Phone: (626) 588-7818.
Students explore the wonder of the San Gabriel River watershed ecosystem at the site of the Whittier Narrows Nature Center – future home of the San Gabriel River Discovery Center. The name of the program invites dialogue between students as colleagues and the voices of nature that students discover by exploring 11 acres of ecological diversity at the site. Each day busloads of K-12 school children arrive from Los Angeles County School Districts. So far, this includes: Basset Unified, Hacienda/La Puente Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Montebello Unified, South El Monte Unified, West Covina Unified, Whittier City Elementary, and Rowland Unified. In June and July, the program also includes 3 Boys and Girls Clubs: Variety Boys & Girls Club of Boyle Heights, East Valley Boys and Girls Club of La Puente, and the Boys and Girls Club of Pomona Valley.
Students experience what it is like to be a scientist and practice scientific methods used to understand watershed ecosystems. They keep science journals; handle sophisticated science instruments, such as microscopes, spectrophotometers, pipettes, and binoculars– all to advance the understanding of nature. Students handle rocks, bioacoustics equipment, and water testing instruments.
The Youth Science Center’s highly qualified EcoTeam collaborates with scientists from local universities: including the Center for Urban Resilience at Loyola Marymount University and the Geoscience and Environment Department at California State University, Los Angeles. Participating students learn alongside working scientists and science-savvy inquiry coaches as they conduct studies in water quality, land use, bioacoustics, and urban resilience– and apply what they have learned to create science-informed environmental stewardship projects.
Students participate in the Action Science Theater featuring EcoVoices Dialogues, building understanding through mime and improvisational theater! Students explore the natural area along the river trails. They experience an outdoor laboratory as part of the adventure of the outdoor field expedition.
Students share their what they’ve learned by creating their own action science theater presentation–it’s environmental education at it’s best!
The programs’ first year has been funded through a matching challenge grant from the San Gabriel Rivers & Mountains Conservancy. The program is currently in a funding campaign mode to maintain and expand the program so that EcoVoices can eventually celebrate having reached over a million youth!