California Educator

January / February 2017

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FULL STEAM AHEAD Rosa RiVera Furumoto California Faculty Association P R O F E S S O R O F C H I C A N A / C H I C A N O S T U D I E S CSU Northridge " We make the road by walking." — Brazilian educator/activist Paulo Freire Question: What do you get when you mix Native American folklore, Latino heritage, concerns about global warm- ing, and modern-day STEM science? Answer: Lessons that are theatrical, culturally relevant, integrated with Next Generation Science Standards, and fun for the whole family. Welcome to the Good Heart Chicana/o and Native Science Project, designed to inspire low-income Latino and Native American students to become interested in STEAM (science, tech- nology, engineering, art and math) through exploration of climate change. Created last year by CSU Northridge professor Rosa RiVera Furumoto, together with community partner Parent Pioneers/Padres Pioneros, this unique after-school program at three schools in Los Angeles Unified School District is funded by a grant from CTA's Institute for Teaching. CSU Northridge students enrolled in the teacher credential pro- gram help to create the curriculum for third-grade participants. "CSUN students get almost no opportunity in their teacher training to work with diverse families," RiVera Furumoto says. "So this is a very cool experience for them." Parents and grandparents brought enthusiasm and snacks when they joined their third-graders for an after-school session at San Fernando Elementary School recently. They also brought costumes to perform a Native American folktale, "How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun," which tells of the origin of sunlight. The performance in Spanish was at times hilarious. That set the stage for college students to initiate a discussion on alternative energy and the problems of global warming caused by fossil fuels. The youngsters had lots of ideas about ways to save energy including car- pooling, riding bikes, turning out lights and recycling. It was a natural segue to informa- tion about career opportunities such as becoming scientists, engineers, physicists, teachers or astronauts. College students shared a story about John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut to walk in space. Students of color need role models, says RiVera Furumoto, to convey the importance of science. How can energy from the sun create electricity? This question launched the culminat- ing activity, with students taking small solar panels outside to soak up sun- shine and provide the energy needed to make small propellers spin. "Our mission is to awaken the real- ization in children that they have the capacity to address climate change and make a difference in the world," says RiVera Furumoto. "I'm proud to be part of that." "Our mission is to awaken the realization in children that they have the capacity to address climate change and make a difference." Rosa RiVera Furumoto, top, inspires students to become interested in STEAM by involving families; at left, third-graders Jaylynn and Jaydyn Garcia work with their grandmother Christina Cardenas. 31 January / February 2017

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