By Wyler Svoboda and Brooke Wilder
“Last Saturday, March 7, was the annual Expo Day for the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering at PetCo Park. It is a fun all-day event free to all ages, where many science-based organizations come together to show off interactive scientific experiments and hands-on activities. Cabrillo National Monument made its annual appearance there with a booth showcasing the Science Explorer’s Club. Our goal for the day was to have as many impactful interactions as we could and to invite those within the San Diego community to the park
“At this event my role was to bring tidepools to the people via the Tidepool module of the Science Explorer’s Club showcase. At this station I facilitated a hands on activity where using real tools used in the park to conduct tidepool surveys and a canvas photo of our tide pools, festival goers got the opportunity to perform their own survey; locating, counting, and identifying species.
The mission of the National Park Service, as many of you know, is to protect natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of future generations. By participating in outreach events like the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, Cabrillo highlights its natural resources to educate and inspire future generations. My favorite part and a personal goal every time I facilitate the tide pool activity is to show people, especially kids, that they can do science!
One of the most challenging things about communicating science is that many people have already decided for themselves that they are not good at science. I started off every interaction asking festival goers what they thought of science, and if they thought they could do it. Surprisingly, the most common answer was that even though they had some interest in science, they felt like they could not or didn’t know if they could do it. Throughout this event I learned just how much people of all ages would want to continue to learn about science once they demonstrated to themselves that they could do it. Many adults expressed interest in volunteering for TPERP or Science Explorer’s Club while many kids asked about summer camps and internships, to which I was happy to tell them Cabrillo offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, two apprenticeships, and Ecologik, a free two week science summer camp for girls ages 9-16!
Although my aim was to inspire future generations, this event ended up being just as inspiring for me. It was an amazing opportunity for the community to connect with Cabrillo and for Cabrillo to connect with the community
At the event, I incorporated the Build-A-Bird workshop for the SEC showcase. Build-A-Bird, for those not familiar, is an interactive presentation about the adaptations of birds with the focus points on the physical structures of their feet, beaks, and feathers. During the workshop, visitors get a chance to create their own birds with an assortment of different body parts from different birds and then decide their bird’s chances of survival.
I spoke with many children and adults alike. Most of the children were immediately hooked by the presence of rubber bird feet, whilst the parents usually held back and waited for their kids to be finished. I found it amusing how as I taught the kids about the intricacies of birds, the parents would slowly move closer to the table as they began to find the presentation to be just as interesting as the kids found it. It became my goal for the day to incorporate everyone within a group so as to have the most impactful and meaningful visit with the CNM booth. It would become challenging at times when visitors would come to the booth with the only expectation of receiving some kind of toy or coupon. At those moments, I would do my best to give them an experience worth remembering rather than just a tide pool trading card. The expo was a great opportunity to practice my interpretation skills and I do believe that the CNM booth had a great effect on many visitors.”