FLOW Continues to Grow
By Jill Lemon
The FLOW Program is growing this year! Thanks to funding from the California State Parks Foundation, we are working on two new exciting add-ons to our curriculum. Also, we welcome the addition of two interns for the summer to assist with this new programming, as well as other aspects of management and growth.
Cassandra Lacey just completed her undergraduate degree in Environment Studies at the University of Redlands. While she lives a good distance away, she is committed to our program and its ideals. Amber Davis is in her last year as an undergraduate majoring in Marine Biology at CSULB, and she too is devoted to the mission of FLOW. I am excited to have the help as we push our current boundaries outward.
The FLOW program’s education component started with middle and high schoolers in mind, but with the additional funding from the California State Parks Foundation we will conduct programming for Kindergarten through Fifth Grade for the first time. The Amigos Naturalists have welcomed elementary students to the Ecological Reserve, and now they can participate in the FLOW program as well. K-2 students will have the opportunity to visit the wetland and the beach, as well as look into microscopes and make scientific observations about microscopic life. Third through fifth graders will also be guided through the wetland and look into microscopes, but their focus will be on the interconnectivity of the micro to the macro—the pieces that make up the whole. Art will feature prominently into the programming; linking art, engineering, and science is essential for our future. Although the programming is still under development, we are excited to have K-5 Title 1 schools apply to participate and encourage our members to spread the word.
The other new development for the FLOW program is offering four classes from our committed middle and high school teachers to participate in FLOW instruction throughout the length of the school year. Students will be encouraged to visit the wetland and the beach at the beginning of the year and to think like scientists. We will give the students classroom kits and a plankton sample to take back to their schools to further their inquiry. Towards the end of the academic year, the students will be invited back to FLOW to present their findings, and they can also further their research into their initial inquiry if more data is necessary. The length and commitment in the program are designed to assist in teaching the scientific method, develop a connection to the Bolsa Chica wetland and beach, and further the citizen science that the FLOW program conducts every week. This might sound like an endeavor with “too much science,” but the idea behind it is to engage and ask questions. If you have questions, you would be a perfect volunteer for these field trips! Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.