SPHS students host nature walks for low-income students, exploring the wonder of natural science

Story by Aanji Sin
Senior Staff Writer

Photos Courtesy of Evan Kowal

Seniors Evan Kowal, Aidan Lewis, and Tianhao Wei were featured on NBC 11 Sunday, Aug. 11, for their dedication and work to the YOSE (Youth Outdoor Science Education) project. The group began the program last January, giving low-income elementary school students the opportunity to learn about science first-hand through nature walks and interactive lessons.

YOSE began to help foster an interest in science with children from low-income backgrounds. The idea stemmed from the three upperclassmen’s shared love for science. They volunteered at Families Forward Learning, a low-income preschool in Pasadena, teaching science classes, and decided to take their experience one step further. They founded the project after they received a $5,000 grant from the Dragon Kim Foundation, providing funding to student-run organizations in the arts, athletics, and academics. 

Within the last few months, YOSE has worked with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena and Families Forward to host interactive science classes for elementary school students, creating a hands-on and engaging environment. Children participated in tower building competitions, making catapults, and even interacting with live animals brought in by professional trainers. In addition to these activities in the classroom, the seniors planned hikes in Millard Canyon in Altadena and El Matador Beach in Malibu where the children were taught about ecology and biology while discovering new kinds of animals such as frogs, sand crabs, and anemones. 

“We want the kids to be able to see how the science they are learning directly applied to the flora and fauna they see in nature,” Kowal said. “This is all to create the next generation of knowledgeable scientifically and environmentally engaged citizens.”

YOSE is already moving on to bigger things. Their next goal is winning the Dragon Challenge, a competition by the Dragon Kim Foundation in which teams that received the $5,000 grant compete against each other to win another $5,000. The group plans to use the money to organize more hikes and trips to the Channel Islands or Catalina Island, and, in the memory of 15-year old student Dragon Kim, continue their mission to make science education more accessible to all.

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