Pacific Ridge students share love of science in Cardiff

Mystic sand, green slime and dry ice were all part of a science exploration day recently provided by students at Pacific Ridge School for kindergarteners at Cardiff Elementary.

With the support and encouragement from their high school, the teens are hoping to share their love of science with students both locally and globally.

The classmates are all members of a service learning club at the Carlsbad private school named Educating Near and Far, which focuses on planning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workshops for children.

In addition to reaching out to local elementary schools with the intent of sparking an interest in science, they also hope to raise enough money to build a school in Nicaragua. To help achieve this goal, they formed a partnership with the nonprofit organization, Free the Children, and hold fundraising activities throughout the year.

“It’s important for kids to be exposed to science,” said Taite Jorgensen, one of the co-founders of the service learning group and a resident of Rancho Santa Fe. “During our visit to Cardiff Elementary, it was rewarding to see how interested the students were in what we showed them and how they tried to understand seemingly complicated concepts at such a young age.”

“We hope that the kids walk away from our lessons more intrigued in STEM and possibly go forward to pursue a job in the field,” said Ava Embry, who lives in Carlsbad and is also a co-founder of Educating Near and Far. “We know that kindergartners aren’t going home from school to think about future college majors, but if our lessons persuade kids to think about science and math as fun rather than taxing and difficult, we have done our job.”

The high school students demonstrated scientific concepts to the kindergarteners in small groups and one-on-one. “Having the high school students come in sparked an interest in science for the students that could not have been equaled any other way,” said Christa Stone, who teaches the kindergarten class. “They were able to see that learning happens throughout life, and that it is fun to learn in many ways.”

Jorgensen and Embry, both juniors at Pacific Ridge, initiated the service learning group as freshman. Over the past two years, it has grown to include 14 members, including nine juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen.

During their weekly meetings, the classmates collaborate to plan meaningful experiences for elementary school students. They also coordinate fundraisers, such as selling T-shirts, to further their goal of raising money to help build a school in Nicaragua.

Service learning is part of Pacific Ridge School’s curriculum and the Educating Near and Far service learning group is just one of over 30 at the school. The intent is to integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection.

“Everyone should feel that they have contributed to the wellbeing of the community in some way,” said Embry. “Learning about leadership and creating connections within our community are really important for the success of our future endeavors in life.”

The service learning group plans to continue reaching out to local schools interested in having them demonstrate science experiments for their students.

“We believe that every student deserves a chance of exposure to science,” said Jorgensen. “This gives them to the opportunity to fall in love with learning science like a lot of members of our group have.”