Last Tuesday was my first week of field trips with children from the Clarke County School District (CCSD) in Athens, Georgia. The lovely ladies in the above picture are UGA undergraduates from the elementary education program who I supervised today as they worked with CCSD visiting kindergarteners. Although they worked with elementary children, our program coordinates every grade level of the CCSD for on-campus field trips in a variety of academic areas on campus. I am excited about the Civic Rights Social Justice field trip we are planning for next month with CCSD 11th graders and UGA Black Law Student Associations (BALSA) members.
These up-and-coming future teachers were great at receiving advice and instruction from me as well as interacting with the kindergartners and getting them excited about their walk around campus and the planned learning activities. We had seven area kindergarten classes join us today on campus where they engaged the environment, drew geometric shapes of the things they observed and basically interacted with UGA folks. It was so much fun talking to the little children and hearing how they think at such young and impressionable ages. 🙂
Prior to the elementary aged students we were visited by CCSD 9th graders, who joined us on campus to learn about the biological sciences. It was surreal being back in a laboratory with students again as I’ve been here at UGA completing my PhD. I arrived in 2010 and 2009 was my last time teaching a science course with high school students in the laboratory. The irony for me is that I had always maintained that the Columbus (Ohio) Public School District would do well to plug into the local major university, which is Ohio State University (OSU). My particular laboratory when I arrived to my school was poorly stocked and maintained. I spent the better part of the first few weeks cleaning, stocking, and securing the lab so that it would be safe for the students to use. Nevertheless, I always thought it would be wonderful to expose these secondary level student to a university laboratory. My new graduate assistantship within the Office of Service Learning allows me to do exactly that from the university side of things. The Experience UGA program is a wonderful opportunity and cooperative to facilitate community engagement stemming toward the university to the community in a very educationally enriching way.
The students from the Clarke County School District from pre-K through grade 12 all take part in the Experience UGA program. They come to campus and are greeted by UGA faculty who share their experiences and encourage the students to think about collegiate study. Current UGA students (see above) also tell their stories to the pre-collegians and provide their own personal testimonies about what it’s like to be a college student working in a STEM area.
In this lab we worked with small snails to introduce their food sources and the scent of their predator and observe their chemosensory reactions and how they responded to environmental conditions.
The students loved it and one of them wrote us a very personal letter explaining how the trip had changed their entire perspective on attending college to study in the science area. To have that type of immediate transformative response from students was so encouraging. I am going to do my best to identify some grants and external funding sources to help support this very valuable UGA program.
Despite what we expected, the predatory snail that our little pygmy snails were supposed to flee didn’t attack them, nor did they try to swim away from the larger snail. We assumed that the predator snail’s scent was not strong enough to elicit a response because when we added concentrated droplets of the scent of the predator to the water the pygmy snails scurried away from it. I told the professor I did not want to be a part of any “snail murders” in the presence of the minor children. She got a kick out of that little joke. 🙂
The happy educators.
Dr. Janna Dresden (red turtleneck shirt) organized and selected the UGA students who would serve as site teachers for the K-graders last Friday. She is super awesome and has a love for teaching children and training future teachers that was contagious. She is also on the advisory board of the Experience UGA program so it has been an absolute pleasure to work with her, both on the research and activities programming.
In addition to this new job, of course, I am finishing my dissertation. I know I have mentioned my desire to be a university professor in the area of Adult Education Learning and Organization Development. My dream is to teach part time in the United States at an American University and also spend the other part of the year teaching in Chile. In preparation for this goal, I am auditing the SPAN 3010 course in Spanish conversation and composition (continuing adult education) in order to continue improving both my speaking and writing/reading skills in Spanish. My professor Aitor Ezquerra Pineda is a native of Spain and a super awesome teacher. He is very funny and we enjoy raising more “adult” topics in class like social justice and current events as we are around the same age. I kind of feel like a teaching assistant in the course sometimes versus being one of the students. I’m sure that my classmates feel the same every time they ask me, “Are you taking the test?” and I respond, “Oh I don’t need to do that, I’m auditing this class and not trying to get a particular grade.” I see both the sadness and jealously in some of their faces as I giggle to myself. Ha ha. #DoctoralCandidateBenefits.
Well, I don’t know when I can blog again as finishing up my dissertation, traveling to conferences, and working a job that is twice the hours that I had in the past (and I’m most grateful about that) consumes so much of my time. Thank God Spring Break is next week, but that means nothing to a doctoral student as those times are just another opportunity to do more writing.
Chau chau amigo. ¡Que te vaya bien! Also, hope you all enjoyed Black History Month as well, I certainly did. 🙂 Oh Lordt!! I’m so sleepy and hungry right now. lol