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Inspiring future educators with hands-on science

This article appeared in the June 10, 2011 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

By Carmen DeLeon
Special to the Enterprise

Fresh college graduates face many challenges landing a job in this tough economy.  While grades and degrees are important, employers look for candidates with applied experience.  Explorit Science Center provides opportunities for UC Davis students to get a jump start on their careers by gaining practical experience in the field of education.

This 2010-2011 school year, Explorit recruited Science Teaching Assistant interns through the UC Davis Internship and Career Center and a partnership with the Introductory Environmental Education course (EDU 142).  Thanks in part to general support from the Give Something Back Foundation, Explorit was able to offer a variety of hands-on science programs where interns gained experience shadowing educators on the job and engaging students through the inquiry-based style of teaching.   

The team of knowledgeable and experienced Explorit educators serve as mentors for the interns, providing guidance and feedback as their skills develop.  All interns have the chance to make a lasting contribution to Explorit through a final project by developing an activity or lesson plan for a program that reflects their personal science interests and understanding of the Explorit style of teaching. 

Michael Wang-Belt, an Explorit educator, intern mentor, and former high school teacher reflects on the value of the internship experience to Explorit and the interns.  “[The interns] are extremely helpful by providing new insight for activities and the inquiry-based style offers the interns a different perspective to teach a subject than what they have experienced through formal training in school,” says Wang-Belt.  

Explorit’s UC Davis intern projects have contributed to the improvement of the Classroom Adventures and Health in Your World programs.  Several interns have also made contributions to Explorit’s upcoming Summer Science Camp and have been hard at work writing lesson plans and testing activities alongside their Explorit mentor. 

For example, educator Derek Woller and intern Dominique Moreno built and tested cars made from toilet paper tubes and CDs.  They furthered their exploration with the addition of an improvised ramp from a folding table that launched cars down the stairs of Explorit’s West Wing.  

While interns work hard to understand and implement the hands-on inquiry-based teaching style at Explorit, there is always time to enjoy the excitement of doing science.  "The different activities I did with the kids were a lot of fun, and it helped prepare me for my future career as a teacher!" reports intern Liz Baskins, a graduating senior in Agriculture Education at UC Davis.

Overall, Explorit internships provide UC Davis students a fun and enriching experience in the education field, preparing them with valuable skills in teaching while reminding them of the science in our everyday lives.  UC Davis students interested in internships at Explorit Science Center for the 2011-2012 school year should watch for postings by logging on to Aggie Job Link on the UC Davis Internship and Career Center website (


Explorit’s coming events:

Summer Camp, Jun 13-Aug 19: Several spaces are still available in the preK-K and 1st-2nd grade sections of Explorit’s Summer Science Camp.  To get information about openings, visit or call (530) 756-0191 Monday-Friday from 9-4:30. 
Explorit Science Center’s 3141 5th St. site is the location for field trips, programs for groups, astronomy club meetings, and Summer Science Camp.  It is also the hub for Explorit’s traveling programs that reach an 18-county region.  The site is open to the public for special events and to groups by reservation. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit

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