Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Internship Spotlight: Susie

Susie: EcoSpark

For my internship I moved out of Sudbury (it was sad to leave, but made less sad by the fact that I left on a cold day!) and down to Toronto. My internship was at a non-profit organization called EcoSpark (www.ecospark.ca).

Now these guys do some amazing work! Ecospark runs a variety of programs in Toronto and surrounding area on environmental science. They reach out to elementary schools, high schools, and communities. I was given the opportunity to work on a variety of projects with the education team.

My very first day on the job was at a teacher workshop run by EcoSpark. The workshop was for teachers to learn about the Changing Currents program. Changing Currents is a program where teachers and an EcoSpark facilitator take their class to a nearby creek to look at benthic macroinvertebrates  and learn about healthy waterways. Even though it was a rainy rainy Saturday the teachers still enjoyed ‘getting their feet wet’ by trying out the oversized hip-waiters, jumping into the creek and examining bugs! It was a great day and start to my internship - I had never been to a teacher workshop, so it was interesting to see how they are run.

Later into my internship, I helped with a day of Changing Currents with grade 9 and 10 science students. I got to jump right in, co-leading the highschool students in their benthic macroinvertebrates analysis. As I watched the rain clouds (and everyone’s stylish rain boots) I enjoyed seeing the students really getting into the activity, trying to catch and identify bugs. From this experience I saw the work and planning that goes into an afternoon outing with students. I also learned a bit about how students view the outdoors and what they understand about the effect of their community on the water.

Another program I was involved with was the Wattwize program - teaching students about lowering electrical energy in their schools. I was able to visit a couple of the schools to see what they were doing and how EcoSpark helps by giving them the tools to understand sustainability. One of the elementary schools we visited are doing a great job! The students on the ecoteam helped to organize monitor-off initiatives as well as a ‘lights out hour‘ every couple of weeks. They are also encouraging the teachers to use only half the lights in the classroom when possible. And little by little the number of teachers taking part is increasing!  

The final, but largest, project I worked on was helping to create a teacher toolkit for the TDSB on solar power. When I started the internship in April, the kit was nearing it’s final stages, so there was lots to do and even more to learn! I used some of what we learned in Sci Com to edit the toolkit (remember your audience!). As well, I created some worksheets for a few of the activities. The amount of work that goes into creating a learning guide for teachers is unbelievable! And I was only there for the final stages of the project! I was very proud to be a part of that and can’t wait to see the finished product.

The journey through Sci Comm has been an amazing experience! Being ‘in the field’ has been constant reinforcement of how much we learned in the past year. I am very excited to head back to Sudbury at the end of June and hear all about everyone else’s experiences!

S’laters

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