Restoring Strawberry Creek with UC Berkeley

DSC_0076“My favorite part of KIDS for the BAY is how you make science fun!” Miykha and her fellow students from Berkeley Arts Magnet and Rosa Parks Elementary Schools had a lot of fun investigating and restoring Strawberry Creek with KIDS for the BAY, UC Berkeley Student Interns, and the Strawberry Creek Restoration Project.

“I’m proud that Gemma and I picked up 171 pieces of trash, because that is 171 fewer pieces of trash in the San Francisco Bay watershed, our home.”

— Charlie, Third Grade Student, Berkeley Arts Magnet School

DSC_0224The third graders first became stewards for their local environmental during their clean-up projects. They were very proud of their efforts to clean up garbage from their school campuses and from Strawberry Creek. Some students took their efforts a step further by creating informational posters about reducing litter to share with their first grade buddies. Alvin and Salma drew a dolphin with plastic garbage around its neck. Alvin explained, “This poster might convince a first grader to never drop plastic on the ground.”

In their creek restoration-engineering lesson, students created mini-creeks with water and sand and investigated how factors such as concrete channels and creek-side plants affect erosion. After the activity, students recommended weeding out invasive English ivy, which has shallow roots that do not hold the soil in place, and planting native plants such as red flowering currants, to control erosion along the banks of Strawberry Creek.

“By incorporating students into campus restoration efforts, we are increasing the number of plants we are able to plant and the amount of trash we can pick up. Seeing school students improve the health of their local ecosystems has been a highlight of my time at UC Berkeley!”

— Dylan Chapple, UC Berkeley PhD Candidate

Students were excited to meet their red flowering currant plants in the fall, transplant them into larger pots and care for them in their classrooms until it was time to plant them beside Strawberry Creek. Luna whispered encouragingly to her plant, “See you in a little while when we go to Strawberry Creek together!”

DSC_0093In January, the school students helped to restore Strawberry Creek on UC Berkeley’s campus. This Environmental Action Project had four stations: planting the red flowering currant plants, weeding out invasive English ivy to make more space for native plants to grow, painting colorful signs to mark the planting projects, and cleaning up trash around the creek.

Students and teachers are now looking forward to their spring Field Trips, when they will return to Strawberry Creek to check on the progress of their plants and engage in hands-on science activities, including studying aquatic invertebrates and water quality testing.

This unique partnership between KIDS for the BAY, UC Berkeley and local Berkeley schools was partly funded by the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund and the East Bay Community Foundation Meyer’s Fund.


Habitat Restoration with Mira Vista School’s Inspired Environmentalists

smile (2)“I hope the bees like these flowers!” exclaimed Rennae, a third grade student from Mira Vista School in Richmond. Students spent a wonderful day in Alvarado Park planting native flowering plants and caring for their local Wildcat Creek. They were very excited to walk to the creek from their school! As they got closer to the creek a student named Jawon commented, “Look! There’s the creek, I can hear it too!”

Jeff McKenna from East Bay Regional Parks District and KIDS for the BAY Instructor John Greiling organized the creek restoration project. Every student planted a native perennial flower, mulched it and watered it. Third grade student Rennae explained, “We are spreading mulch to keep in moisture.” A total of 62 plants were planted and the two plants selected for the project, Penstemon Heterophyllus and Grindelia Hirsutula, have blue and yellow flowers – the same colors as Mira Vista School!

Students enjoyed the opportunity to take action for the creek and teachers were glad to get new ideas on how to use the local watershed habitat as a science teaching resource. Third grade teacher Rachel McLachlan said, “I am excited to bring my class to this spot next year and show them the great work we did. We could also start a new planting site next year!”

This is the third year for the KIDS for the BAY School Wide Watershed Action Program at Mira Vista School. This program was funded by the Dean Witter Foundation and NOAA B-WET and has provided academic enrichment for 480 students and professional development for 14 teachers since 2012. We are proud of our teacher partners, who will continue to teach this program to future classes of students, and make sure that environmental education continues to be part of the curriculum and culture of Mira Vista School.

Taking Action for Arroyo Viejo Creek

RestorationArroyo Viejo Creek, which flows through East Oakland, near Cox Academy School, also flows through the grounds of the Oakland Zoo. Third grade students from Cox Academy had a wonderful experience helping the environment by restoring the creek, and visiting the zoo!

Students used their hands to simulate a watershed and demonstrate how the rain falls and fills creeks like Arroyo Viejo where a diversity of organisms lives. KIDS for the BAY Instructor Aislinn Sterling explained that students would be helping the creek by pulling out weeds. Invasive plants make it difficult for other plants that keep the creek healthy to grow. Students, teachers and parents got to work and discovered all kinds of organisms. They investigated fallen galls from oak trees, mushrooms, spiders and beetles, as they worked to help the creek.

As students walked along the path beside the creek as part of a scavenger hunt they found flowers, blackberry bushes, birds, squirrels, spider webs, bird’s nests and other flora and fauna. Several California newts, with bright orange bellies were discovered in the creek. Ms. Sterling reminded students that these were some of the animals they were helping by keeping the creek healthy!

To end a wonderful day of stewardship, students, parents and teachers visited the zoo. As they studied all the beautiful animals, Ms. Sterling asked the students to identify some possible adaptations. Students named the giraffe’s long tongue and the elephant’s trunk as adaptations that aid in the survival of these organisms.

The visit to the zoo was a wonderful treat for our hardworking scientists and environmentalists from Cox Academy.

Food Chains Rock!

foodchainsrock_250x375Food Chains Rock!

Students from Washington Elementary School in Richmond really enjoyed learning about San Francisco Bay food chains! They learned about apex predators, decomposers, scavengers, the difference between a food chain and a food web, adaptations, and the anatomy of Dungeness crab, striped bass fish, and seaweed. Students were excited to touch seaweed for the first time. Many described it as being gooey and “interesting.” Students were surprised to learn that seaweed is adapted to become completely dry and then rehydrate following the movement of the tides at the rocky shore.

Students were very excited to investigate Dungeness crab and striped bass fish anatomy by touching the animals and answering critical thinking questions.

After their hands-on experiences with different organisms, students learned how all the organisms they investigated are connected to other organisms in San Francisco Bay food chains including humans, and how the health of one organism affects the health of everything in the food chain.

Reiley shared, “Today I learned that seaweed does not have roots, it has holdfasts. And if seaweed gets dried out from the sun it can rehydrate.”

Natalia shared, “Today I learned that crabs have tails[abdomens]. Male crabs have a triangle shaped tail and females have a “U” shaped tail.”

Malaysha shared, “I learned from KIDS for the BAY that a female Dungeness Crab can hold 2.5 million babies!”

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