Director’s Letter August 2019
From Curious to Scientist
With your support, RMBL is investing in youth science. 30 years ago, RMBL started Kid’s Nature Camp. We now focus the program on science and formalized that transition in 2016 by renaming it Youth Science Programs.
In 2001, we had 190 summer contact days with younger children. By 2018 we had over 1700 youth contact days. We offered a high school course, supported classes from Crested Butte Community School, Gunnison, Delta, and the Denver Logan School for Creativity as well as professional development for teachers. Operating a growing program of this size and integrating RMBL science with the programming needs of public schools, requires a professional.
If you have met Ann Colbert, who after five years of working seasonally is now the full-time coordinator, you can appreciate my description of her as a “unicorn”. You can read more about her in the adjoining article, but she has a unique combination of experiences and talents. With a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Colorado College, she is a certified teacher with classroom experience, and has worked as an outdoor educator with Rocky Mountain National Park, Walking Mountains Science Center in Vail, and the Aspen Center for Environmental Science. She also has a passion for RMBL science.
Why would RMBL invest in youth science programs? Nationally the science community has turned its attention to K-12 education. Technological innovation allows our economy to grow sustainably, enabling us to do more with less. Science drives our ability not only to extend human lives, but to make them more enjoyable. Increasingly all workers, not just scientists, must use scientific thinking and skills.
To meet this challenge, educators have developed the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 education. As Colorado and other states are adopting these standards, K-12 science curriculum is changing. The standards emphasize exposing students of all ages to the process of science. RMBL, with one of the largest communities of field scientists, is uniquely positioned to embed our K-12 programs in active science programs. This sets us apart from environmental education centers.
Furthermore, field science is an important entry point to all sciences. Science often advances as we develop technology to see and measure new things. But those phenomena, whether they are black holes or obscure molecules moving between cells, are increasingly abstract. Scientists are grown from curiosity. In children, this curiosity stems a world one can see, touch, hear, and smell. From birth, curiosity about our environment literally shapes our brains. RMBL builds on this natural curiosity to help students develop scientific skills, regardless of whether they go on to be chemists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, or marketers.
RMBL’s combination of a focus on the outdoors and our large scientific community allows us to develop and model K-12 programs that are uniquely impactful. We invite you to join RMBL in a journey that I have no doubt will touch the lives of teachers and students across the country. Your support will make this possible!
Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL