Soaring with Second Graders

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USC Spatial’s Lisa Sedano Mentors Baldwin Hills Elementary Students

Outstretched arms hugged Dr. Lisa Sedano as she greeted a large group of children on Trousdale Parkway on a sunny morning earlier this summer. No wonder the young visitors to the USC campus were excited to see Sedano, lecturer with the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, as she has been a favorite visitor to the second grade classes at Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot and Gifted High Ability Magnet.

The connection goes back five years when Baldwin Hills Elementary’s second grade teacher, Tracy Pharris, contacted USC, hoping that a USC faculty member could come as a guest speaker to her class to help make their science segment on the water cycle come alive. Susan Kamei, managing director of the Spatial Sciences Institute, made the connection with USC Spatial’s large general education courses entitled “The Water Planet,” which Sedano co-teaches.

Once a year, Dr. Sedano visits the Baldwin Hills Elementary second-grade classes to explain the processes of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation, and the importance of water conservation. “I try to go ‘bigger’ as well as ‘smaller.’ That is, I discuss big picture ideas about the global movement of water and help them make the connection that water use in one part of the world can have in faraway place. I also ask them to consider the water they use in their daily lives and where it came from, so they can make the connection in their own homes and lives.”

To help build upon their science curriculum, Sedano conducts an experiment with them so they can better visualize the water cycle process. “I talk with them about the scientific process and encourage them to make observations as a scientist would,” added Sedano.

Then as a field trip to celebrate the end of the school year, the Baldwin Hills second graders with their teachers and parent chaperones visit the Spatial Sciences Institute and tour the USC campus. Said Sedano, “It’s wonderful to have the students visit us at the Spatial Sciences Institute, where they sit in the computer lab where our own USC students sit. I hope that as a result of their visit, they have made a personal connection with what we do here at the university and could see college as a natural progression in their own learning in the future.”

Pharris said, “As a part of our Project Based Learning, we are encouraged to seek out experts. Dr. Sedano is our expert and we look forward to having her visit our students every year. They love sharing their knowledge with a college professor, observing the experiment, and asking questions. Many of them go home and do the experiment for their family. As we prepare our scholars to be college and career ready, what better way to end the year than with a visit to USC to reconnect with Dr. Sedano?”

After Sedano reviews the principles the students learned about water, they demonstrated their school spirit. As Pharris called out, “Scholars!”, they resoundingly responded with, “We soar!” The Baldwin Hills young scholars in turn learned to give a “Fight on!,” the all-important expression of USC Trojan spirit.

They left the Spatial Sciences computer lab with USC Spatial stickers in their hands, and perhaps also the inspiration in their minds and hearts to continue their science learning – and maybe even become future Trojans and spatial scientists.

 

 

 

 

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