May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

A Conversation with Helena Carmena Young of the California Academy of Sciences…

Posted: Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Eric Lewis

I was lucky to catch Helena in between her work meetings and travels to the Trinity Alps to find out what kinds of things are going on over in Golden Gate Park.  For those who don’t know, Helena is the Senior Manager of Teacher Education at California Academy of Sciences.  While you probably won’t find her on the floor of the museum, you will find her pushing teachers to build their science knowledge through innovative programs and activities.  Over some delicious Vietnamese food in a small restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District, I got to ask her about a variety of Academy goings-ons…

Lewis: So, what exciting teacher programs do you offer at the Academy these days?

Carmena Young:  We have a pretty big menu of professional development opportunities that engage teachers in different topics, introduce a variety of effective teaching strategies, and provide time to collaborate with fellow teachers.  We have new Explore the Natural World workshops that focus on science concepts such as Weather and Climate, Astronomy, and Plant Biology over a three-part series.  There is actually a pretty big list of offerings at the academy.

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Lewis: Is there a place teachers can go to see all of the workshops listed in one place?

Carmena Young:  Sure, teachers can just go to www.calacademy.org/teachers/workshops to see what we offer. We also have an exciting special teacher event in the fall called Educator Extravaganza.  It’s going to take place on Saturday, November 5, 1:30 pm – 6:30 pm.

Lewis:  What is going to happy at this new event?

Carmena Young:  At the Educator Extravaganza, teachers will join fellow educators to explore the Academy inside and out.  Everyone is going to walk away with resources, activities and inspiration to bring science into classrooms.  Teachers will be able to participate in workshops and behind-the-scenes tours, converse with scientists, and dive deeper into the Academy’s exhibits and research collections.

Lewis:  This sounds great!  What do teachers need to do?  Is there a cost?

Carmena Young:  Actually, the event will be free for Bay Area teachers, but an RSVP will be required since space is limited.  Teachers should RSVP here if they are interested.

Lewis:  Do you still offer field trips for school groups?

Carmena Young:  Boy, do we ever.  In fact, for the 2011-2012 school year, the Academy has considerably increased field trip slots for classes ranging from pre-K through 12th grade. With free admission for San Francisco schools and rates at only $6.95 per person for all other schools within California, field trips are an amazing deal. Teachers can apply for field trips when if fits best in their schedule, but the sooner they arrange things the more likely they’ll get the times that they want!

Lewis:  I’m actually pretty familiar with field trips to the Academy.  Are there any other ways that the Academy serves school communities?

Carmena Young:  Actually, something new is that beginning September 2011, the Academy will introduce a discounted rate for groups serving youth, such as afterschool and youth development programs, school clubs, sports teams, and the like.  The entry fee will only be $16.95 per person, so youth groups from California will receive a generous discount off admission.  Folks can read more about this at www.calacademy.org/visit/youth_groups/.

Lewis:  Well, Helena, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today. Before we go, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing some of curriculum from California Academy of Sciences that you think highlights the spirit of the Academies view of science education?

Carmena Young:  Sure thing – but nothing really beats coming to the Academy and seeing everything for yourself.  That said, for high school I love the Carbon Cycle activity from our site.  It’s a great activity that can be adapted for pretty much any age group, but that can be done anytime that you want to do it!  For elementary school, one of my favorites is on Composting.  The activity is great for a range of kids as well, but is a fantastic way to introduce students to the big ideas of scientific investigations.  I hope everyone enjoys these lessons (and there’s a whole lot more on our website).  Have a great school year!

Helena Carmena Young will be presenting a workshop at the 2011 California Science Education Conference in Pasadena, click here to see when she will be presenting.

Eric Lewis is the CSTA region 2 director, high school area science support in the San Francisco USD LEAD office,  and a frequent visitor of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

 

Written by Eric Lewis

Eric Lewis

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office.

One Response

  1. That Helena Carmena-young is brillant!

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