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Diving into science

Sixth graders from Magnolia School get hands-on lessons in marine biology from experts every summer at the University of California, Davis.

The marine biology lab at Davis has a tank with marine life which students get to see first-hand, said Jim Richards, sixth grade teacher at Magnolia. The university students also share their research with the school-goers, Richards said.

The yearly five-day science camp, which took place in May, also includes camping, hiking among the redwoods, and traveling to the coast to see marine life such as star fishes, sea urchins and sea anemones, Richards said.



“At the science camp, the students have experiential learning,” said Mark Rodriguez, principal at Magnolia. “It gives kids an experience beyond the books. They are able to see, hear, smell the things they learn about.”

“When you sit in a classroom, the environment is very closed,” Richards said. “The dynamics in the classroom are completely different from when you are out in the field. There, students get to experience anything they study on their own terms.”




This year, approximately 230 students participated in the science camp, Rodriguez said. They were accompanied by eight teachers and approximately 40 high school and college group leaders.

One of the major benefits of the trip is planting an interest in students to pursue education at the college level, Rodriguez said.

“We have many students who, after taking the trip, have gone on to study marine biology and have also made career choices as a result of the things they learned on this trip,” he said.

Parents pay the greatest part of the cost of science camp, Rodriguez said. The parents’ club also organizes fundraisers to help to bring down the costs.

This year, parents paid $182 instead of $225, due to money raised by the parents’ club, Rodriguez said.

Richards, who has accompanied students on the science camp for the past 21 years, said the trip was a “great social experience” for the students.

“There’s an amazing transformation (in the students) as they have to get along with each other,” he said. “It’s almost like a coming-of-age experience.”

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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