The Community Outreach Committee continued to strive towards fulfilling its mission of making science more interesting, relevant, and accessible to those who do not necessarily have a background in STEM. This year, an overarching theme of our work was appreciation for the outdoors.
We developed curricula for six new activities for our partnership with YMCA Oz, covering topics, such as sports medicine and the effects of drugs on the brain. Along with these classroom-based activities, we introduced outdoor activities to the program in the form of explorations around the La Jolla Tide Pools and the Scripps Coastal Reserve. We hope to implement more of these outdoor activities to provide students with experiences in “the real world” and to bolster their appreciation for nature.
The topic of this year’s high school essay contest asked students to consider whether efforts and resources should be used towards conservation on Earth or towards space exploration. For the first time, we received essays not only from San Diego, but also from more remote places, like Texas, New Jersey, and even South Korea!
The Ocean Discovery Institute (ODI) invited us to their “Snorkel with a Scientist” event at La Jolla Cove. After snorkeling alongside sea lions and colorful fish, we were able to have a discussion with the ODI students about science and higher education. In the future, we plan to participate in their Canyon Volunteers program to help restore an urban canyon to create a safe space for the youth and their families.
I am ecstatic about the work that my committee and I have done this year and am excited to see us reach even greater heights.
This year, the Community Outreach Committee wanted to focus on reaching out to the underserved students of San Diego with our new unofficial motto “inspire young minds.”
My team and I strengthened our partnership with Ocean Discovery Institute by holding two events this year. In both, we mentored a group of students on scientific communication strategies as they prepared to give a presentation about the work they had done on a recent research trip.
Additionally, we started a new partnership with YMCA Oz, a program for teenagers 12-17 suffering from a range of issues including mental health and homelessness and therefore do not have consistent access to education. We worked with these students to tutor them and to provide hands-on activities designed to inspire them to learn more about biology. Preliminary anonymous surveys indicate the students we reached are more interested in biology and more likely to pursue higher education.
We built on the valuable work done by previous committees by expanding our outreach efforts with our essay contest. This year’s prompt focused on bioethics, and as a result of new outreach techniques we nearly doubled the number of essay submissions! We also completely redesigned Nutrition Games based on feedback from teachers. We more than doubled the number of classrooms we visited, and preliminary data indicates students are left with a greater understanding and appreciation for nutrition as a result of our event.
I am incredibly proud that my team this year was able to more than triple our reach. We inspired the young minds of San Diego, served the underserved, and developed our own scientific communication and teaching skills. I look forward to seeing where we go next.
As the Community Outreach Chair, I am in charge of communicating Saltman Quarterly’s passion for science to the community through service projects. My committee and I will work with other on-campus and off-campus organizations in order to achieve a more prominent presence in the San Diego community. We aim to engage K-12 students in various biological and scientific activities throughout the year, as well as involve UCSD students in the outreach to these communities.
So far, we have three planned events for the 2014-2015 school year, each with varying target communities and purposes.
With the Essay Contest, we would like to give students at different high schools around San Diego the opportunity to have an essay published in one of our SQ Insider publications.
The essay will be a one-page statement on a student’s dream for his or her future and how he or she plans to use biology to follow this dream.
The winning student will be able to include this outstanding achievement on job, scholarship, and college applications. He or she will also receive a copy of the publication including their essay as well as a medal from the Division of Biology at UC San Diego. With this essay contest, we hope to inspire students to consider careers in science.
Winter quarter is our chance to engage elementary and middle school students! Dr. Paul Saltman was our inspiration for Saltman Quarterly, and he was a professor of Biology teaching nutrition here at UCSD. In order to honor him and his legacy, we decided that we would like to engage the younger generation with a set of activities called Nutrition Games! The “curriculum” will be set by UCSD students and faculty who are tied with the Nutrition course on campus, and will help us gear the event for younger children. We hope to give these students not only a fun way to learn about nutrition and health, but also a taste of what a career in Biology would sound like and the types of information that they would learn!