Science Education Outdoors:
Science Education is my passion, my name is John L. Sanders, and my journey as an outdoor science educator began in 1995, at UC Santa Cruz. While cruising Monterey Bay on a whale watching trip with middle-school students in our summer science program, we observed a large pod of Orcas (killer whales) chasing and then attacking a migrating grey whale and her calf. The impact of what these science students were witnessing first hand, was far greater than even the best science or nature film could have achieved. Their curiosity about the event gave me an opening to discuss other science topics such as marine mammal behavior, marine food chains, migration cycles, ocean topography, predator/prey relationships, and a host of other topics. The students’ passion for science education had been ignited by their outdoor experiences.
Since 2012, I’ve taught outdoor science as Naturalist with the Kern Environmental Education Program (Camp KEEP), in Cambria, California. Our science curriculum covers both life science and earth science topics including photosynthesis, plant/animal adaptations, food webs, resource allocation, wind and waves, tides, plate tectonics, topography, intertidal ecology, estuary ecology, animal behavior, and astronomy. Over the last 12 years, I have interacted with thousands of science students from Kern, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo Counties, in an outdoor setting.
In 2009, a marine science program was added to Coyote Road School’s summer camp schedule. In 2011, Dave Wilson retired the Coyote Road School, program and graciously gifted the school to me. In January 2012, the Delphinus School of Natural History Summer Science program was born, and currently draws students from around San Luis Obispo county, as well as northern and southern California.
At Delphinus School of Natural History, we believe personal experience, fosters true appreciation for the natural world. True nature awareness is a deeply personal journey, achieved through a process that engages all of the senses. When we learn to recognize nature’s cycles, understand wildlife behavior, and interpret its many languages, we become naturalists, instead of casual observers. We believe that the natural resources of the central coast provide an ideal setting for developing an appreciation for, and personal relationship with the natural world.