Verizon Grant Allows Homeless Children Opportunity to Attend Summer Science Camp at CSULB
2012-07-18 · By Editor
Homeless children have a hard enough time getting a proper education, let alone attending a summer educational enrichment camp.
But thanks to a $58,000 Verizon Foundation grant, up to 120 Long Beach children from homeless families will enjoy a two-week summer science education camp called See Us Succeed (Science Education Experience to help Underserved Students Succeed), hosted by the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Science Education Department.
“This is the fifth summer that we’re offering it and the fourth time that Verizon has paid for it,” said Laura Henriques, CSULB Science Education Department chair. “It’s one of the more exciting things that I do because it’s something that these kids would never have the opportunity to take part in,” she added, noting that Verizon requires grantee organizations to take at least a one-year break in funding before reapplying, so the Earl and Loraine Miller Foundation and other donors supported last year’s camp.
From July 23 through Aug. 3, children age 6 through the eighth grade will take classes at Long Beach’s Mary McLeod Bethune Transitional Center at the Villages at Cabrillo, a community facility serving homeless populations, as well as at the adjacent Cabrillo High School in the morning, then go to the nearby Fairfield/Westside Boys and Girls Club for the afternoon. Teams led by a credentialed science teacher assisted by two CSULB science education credential candidate students will teach the classes, which cover a variety of science subjects appropriate for different age levels.
“Working with Long Beach Boys and Girls Club is a nice bonus,” Henriques said. “We are partnering with their staff and the afternoon programming will include more science, math and engineering related activities. Our campers will go on a field trip to the California Science Center during their afternoon programming with the Boys and Girls Club.”
The daily schedule is important, Henriques said, because families have to be out of shelters all day. “It gives parents time to seek employment or more permanent housing or do things without having to worry about their kids being in safe programming.”
The program originally focused on the Villages at Cabrillo but later provided busing for children from different areas of Long Beach, she continued. “This year we’ll be focusing on the west side, south side and downtown areas. Kids get recommended by their counselors and if we take one child in the family, we want to take the siblings so that the parents have time to do what they need to do.”
Moreover, parents will receive information about community social services and organizers are working to provide the children with free dental screenings by Smile Bright Foundation, staffed by dental professionals.
In addition, Henriques is inviting CSULB’s Mobile Science Museum—a motorhome full of hands-on exhibits staffed by CSULB employees and students—as well as California Highway Patrol and Long Beach Police Department officers to demonstrate crime scene investigations. “It’s so nice for the kids to have a positive interaction with law enforcement because, sadly, so many of these families have had negative experiences.”
“The other thing that Verizon was excited about having us add this year is more technology. So we’ll be using iPads and some science apps,” funded through the grant that children will share in class, Henriques said. “Mike Murray, who is the Southern California Verizon governmental affairs director, has been a huge champion of this program and of the Bethune Center in particular. We feel really lucky to have him as a partner.”
“Cal State Long Beach has put together a program like no other for some of the most deserving students,” Murray said. “It’s an honor for Verizon to be part of this science camp. CSULB has taken upon itself to grow the camp as the need has grown. They’ve set a standard for seeing to it that every student should have access to the range of opportunities that education provides.”
This year’s science camp topics include: “May the Force be With You!” exploring pushes and pulls; “It’s Not Magic, It’s Science!” “Star Scientists!” exploring astronomy and rockets; “Exciting Engineers!” designing, building and testing; and “CSI: Long Beach Forensic Science Investigations.”