Lizzy Montgomery from The Watershed Stewards Project showed on a model city how our land practices sometimes unwittingly spread pollutants into our waterways.
For the past nine years, the fifth grade students of Topanga Elementary Charter School have played host to the fifth grade graduating class of Hart Street Elementary School, located in Canoga Park, for a day of hands-on science learning.
Science Day began in 2005 as an outreach program for the newly-opened Science Lab at Topanga Elementary and quickly grew to become the final graduation trip for Hart Street Elementary School's fifth grade students.
Julie Miller from the Metropolitan Water District taught students about water
conservation including how to use a plastic bag with a hole that drains slowly in the
shower to show when your four minutes are up.
Hart Street Elementary School is a federally-recognized Title 1 school. The students are mostly Latino from working class neighborhoods in the northwest portion of the San Fernando Valley.
Throughout the years of Science Day, it has become clear that this trip to Topanga is the first time these children have ever ventured to the Santa Monica Mountains. This year, two incredible parent volunteers, Richard Brody and Debra Shier Grether, who both work in the field of environmental science, organized the event.
The day began when 130 Hart Street students pulled up to Topanga Elementary and were quickly split into four groups along with the Topanga fifth graders. It was explained that they would get to spend their day rotating through several stations.
Nature of Wildworks volunteers Lin Tanenbaum (L) and Charlie Romero (R) introduced the kids to a full-grown and a baby possum.
The Black Sage Group began in the schools outdoor amphitheater with a presentation by the staff of The Nature of Wildworks. The students oohed and aaahhhed over the live animals that included two-year-old and two-week-old possums, various birds, snakes and two adorable ferrets.
Just above the amphitheater, the Green Yucca Group enjoyed a trail hike through the back hills of Topanga Elementary led by trained naturalists and entomologists.
Science teacher Ms. Monks taught the students about invertebrates before she brought out the crayfish.
The Red Toyon Group was looking at a watershed model run by the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM) that showed how our land-use practices on residential, farming and commercial lands can add pollutants to the watershed and how rainfall transports these pollutants to the lagoon and surf. They also enjoyed a water conservation lesson and took a special pledge on how they could help conserve water at home.
Students from Hart Street Elementary
School were fascinated with crayfish
that came right from the Topanga Creek.
The Blue Thistle Group split their time and participated in a Steelhead trout game where they learned how each persons actions affect the natural world around us. Then they got up close and personal with live crayfish in the Topanga Elementary Science Lab with science teacher Dominique Monks.
The day ended when all the students gathered in the schools garden and got to spend time with their pen pals while enjoying Popsicles and exploring the contents of their swag bags. By the time the Hart Street buses pulled away from the curb, new friendships had been formed and the seeds of budding scientists had been planted.