The pre-scientists in Ms. Madden’s classes at Equitas Academy have had a lot of exposure to new and interesting areas of science lately. Two scientist mentors from UC Irvine visited the classroom to give guest lessons. First, Kristina Lackey taught the class about the plants, animals, and climates in the main biomes using an activity called “biome-in-a-box.” Then, Linh Anh Cat taught the class about the role of yeast and fungi in the different biomes and how these organisms are capable of living in extreme environments. The pre-scientists watched yeast “breathe” by mixing yeast with sugar and water and then letting a balloon fill up with carbon dioxide made by the yeast. Meanwhile, the pre-scientists have exchanged another round of letters with their pen pals! They each learned a little bit more about their pen pal’s scientific research and who they are as a person, and they had the chance to share some of their own thoughts and questions. At this point in the year, both pen pals have thoroughly answered the “get to know you” questions, they can get into some interesting conversations. Last time I wrote to my pen pal, I told her some things about my work, and in her reply, she asked, “Do you use your job as a way to teach the community?” It’s a great question. The answer, which I will include in my next letter, is that my job as a researcher does not bring me close to the community very often. That’s one big reason why I love being a pen pal through Letters to a Pre-Scientist. It is an opportunity to contribute to the lives of others, not just through my research and not just with financial support, but by giving time and helping kids learn and grow.
By the way, that last part about helping kids learn and grow– that’s exactly what the teachers in our program (and teachers everywhere) are working hard to do every single day. They are super heroes, in my opinion.