Cambridge School Volunteers Wins Award for Outdoor Learning Program

Cambridge School Volunteers Wins Award for Outdoor Learning Program
Posted on 05/15/2018
Cambridge School Volunteers, Inc. was awarded an honor this morning by Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew A. Beaton in a ceremony at the Statehouse. The award recognizes excellence in science instruction and environmental education.

Julie CrostonThe nonprofit organization won the award for its six-year-old program Art and Science in One. The program trains volunteers to become one-to-one mentors to elementary school students in a structured nature journaling program that takes place during five consecutive weeks during the school day.
The program serves fourth- and fifth-graders in a Cambridge public elementary school, the Tobin Montessori School. Fresh Pond Reservation, managed by the Cambridge Water Department, is the site for the six hours of outdoor journaling at the heart of the program. The program is funded by the Ramsey McCluskey Family Foundation.

The tremendous skill, training, and caring of the diverse community members who serve as one-to-one mentors in Art & Science in One constitutes a local resource that is being effectively channeled to helping build early experience in a basic scientific practice. Just as importantly, the program helps build high student engagement with science learning through use of the city’s open space and embeds a sense of civic responsibility for the city’s open space and its watershed. Erica Beade, a science illustrator and drawing instructor, has been the program’s training consultant since its inception.

Julie Croston, CSV’s director of recruitment and communications, designed the program in consultation with school teaching staff and serves as its coordinator. “The level of engagement of the students is high and the relationship building with their adult volunteer is something that not all children are exposed to,” says Susan Grassey, the Upper Elementary Montessori teacher who hosts the program every year. “My students gain a lot from this program both academically and personally. It is awesome to see a student who is not really an artist develop observational and drawing skills through the mentoring they receive from their adult volunteer."

Art & Science in One teaches scientific practices outlined by NGSS— formulating questions; analyzing and interpreting data; and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

Founded in 1966, Cambridge School Volunteers (CSV) is an independent, non-profit organization supporting the academic and personal success of Cambridge public school students. CSV develops programs which match caring and competent adults with students of all needs and levels. In the 2017 school year, 2500 students benefited from a classroom volunteer, tutor, or mentor and 49,000 hours of volunteer time were donated through CSV within the Cambridge Public Schools.

For press information contact Cambridge School Volunteers Executive Director Jennifer Fries, 617.349.6794.

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