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July 28, 2020

Science kits offer educational activity for South Monterey County youth

Greenfield Community Science Workshop creates projects, videos for extended learning

GREENFIELD — Youth in Greenfield and South Monterey County have been able to supplement their homework packets and distance learning with science lessons contained in “Bags Full of Science,” a project by the Greenfield Community Science Workshop.

The bags contain materials for science projects and instructions in both English and Spanish. In addition, the workshop has offered video content to go along with the projects through its YouTube channel, greenfieldcsw.

An estimated 4,000 bags have already been distributed to youth in Greenfield, Soledad, San Ardo and San Lucas.

“Our experience has been that any sort of hands-on, making project is attractive to the vast majority of students,” said Curt Gabrielson, co-director of the Greenfield Community Science Workshop. “A good science project is simply a piece of reality in your hands to observe, experiment with and learn from.”

Each week has a different project, with the latest bag containing a catapult, which workshop staff said has been popular among the students. In that kit, youth were able to work with a base, a throwing arm, rubber bands, a screw with nuts and a piece of straw. Once assembled correctly, they could then launch small objects, such as beans.

“For kids to really understand this information, they can’t just read it or listen to it; they need to grab it themselves, try it themselves, seek out understanding for themselves using simple stuff like the contents of these bags,” Gabrielson said.

Workshop staff members continue to show up each afternoon to pack the bags in their hygienic operation setup. They remain separated and regularly disinfect the materials. The workshop plans to distribute 1,000 bags per project each week until summer.

“We know the kids of South County need constructive, active things to do during their time sheltering at home,” Gabrielson said. “We’re also making a trilingual public awareness video about the virus that should soon be on our website.”

Video content is something the workshop has been ramping up, with its prior YouTube activity having been years ago, but now staff members produce frequent videos to accompany the bags.

“Everything seems to have an accompanying video these days, and it’s easy enough to make,” Gabrielson said. “We borrowed some equipment from the police department so our quality is a bit better than when we first started.”

The bags are being created with the current workshop funding, along with grant funding from the Community Foundation of Monterey County for the bag materials.

Gabrielson noted the workshop will assess its funding in the summer to determine how to best move forward. They do accept donations at any time through the City of Greenfield and the Action Council of Monterey County.

An added element to the bags is the surprise of a random prize in the form of a silver hammer. Each week four hammers are inserted into bags, and youth can present their hammers to win an engineering tool box filled with useful items and tools. The first prize winner was confirmed last week.

“We do believe that every kid should have a tool box around the house for engineering opportunities that arise,” Gabrielson said.

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler, Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.
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