Location: Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy (Camino Nuevo Charter Academy), Echo Park, Los Angeles CA
Demographics: 88% Latino, 12% multiple ethnicities, 94% Socioeconomically Disadvantaged, 100% of students receive free and reduced breakfast and lunch, 60% English Language Learners
Students Age group: 6-7 years old
How many students will benefit from the Project: 27+
Project Description: The first grade students at Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy have been investigating and experimenting with ecosystems this year during science instruction. Students have conducted inquiry-based experiments such as constructing terrariums and aquariums to understand the complexity of the interconnectivity of organisms in an ecosystem. As a culminating lesson students will be visiting the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific to observe various marine ecosystems and the fascinating creatures that inhabit them. Ms. Mendoza has been fundraising throughout the entire year and has raised enough money to pay for the buses for the trip. The area of assistance that students at Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy need is funding to pay the admission fees for the aquarium ($7.50 per student). While the fees may seem minimal, the cost of admission could be a significant financial barrier to students that are socioeconomically disadvantaged (94% of the student population). To support students’ science learning opportunities the RIOT team will donate funds from this month’s teacher grant shirt “Rise Above” to cover the cost of admission for as many students as possible.
Benefit for Students: By taking the students to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific the students will be provided with experiential and kinesthetic learning opportunities that support first grade science standards as well as fostering moments of scientific intrigue. This learning opportunity is a culminating activity to an ecosystem unit. Additionally, many of the students have never been to a museum or an aquarium, and these real life-learning experiences will leave a long-lasting impact on the students’ affinities towards science.
Science Standards covered on the field lesson include:
1.2.a. Students know different plants and animals inhabit different kinds of environments and have external features that help them thrive in different kinds of places.
1.2.c. Students know animals eat plants or other animals for food and may also use plants or even other animals for shelter and nesting.
RIOT Funding: We will be providing a minimum of $200.00 to help fund the cost of admission for at least 27 students.
Inspiration Behind Design: Scientific thinking is crucial for youth because this skill is founded in critical analysis, a tool necessary to identify oppression and cause change. This critical skill set needs to be reinforced in students constantly, and science classes are a perfect space to accomplish this. Many students in Los Angeles' lower socioeconomic communities are underperforming in science, and the RIOT team believes this underperformance is cause by a lack of resources and inspirational learning experiences. In Los Angeles Unified School District, around 30% of 5th grade socioeconomically disadvantaged students performed at proficient level on the Life Science 2011-2012 STAR test. Even worse was was the performance of 8th and 10th grade students with less than 20% scoring proficient (www.cde.ca.gov). Sadly, a similar trend is seen with English Language Learners in Los Angeles. Less than 20% of 5th grade ELL students scored proficient or advanced in the STAR test for Life Science, and again this performance data showed a decrease to less than 10% of these students in 10th grade scoring proficient or advanced (www.cde.ca.gov). These dismal numbers were the creative spark for this month's "Rise Above" design.
From both socioeconomic and language proficiency level perspectives, students at Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy will face multiple barriers to achieving in science. The RIOT team believes that given the right moments of inspiration and the necessary resources, like a stimulating field trip and laboratory experiences, students can be empowered to collectively soar above barriers preventing them from achieving. An additional benefit of supporting science courses for students in underperforming communities is the development of the critical lenses needed to recognize inequity and move beyond the impediments to success. We have represented this concept with a school of flying fish rising above and excelling past any obstacles in their path. Help us give these 1st grade students the skills, resources, lenses, and motivation needed to take flight above the social structures in their way.