The Aquarium’s Career Connections program is kicking off the 2017-2018 school year with two sessions connecting students in the Rialto Unified School District with Dr. Jason Keller, a wetlands ecologist at Chapman University via live videoconference. A total of six high school classrooms will connect with Dr. Keller in October. During his talks, presented live from the Aquarium, he discusses the importance of wetlands, what it is like to be a wetland ecologist, his research lab and the undergraduates he mentors, and his personal path to becoming a scientist.
Career Connections provides opportunities for scientists to connect with middle school and high school students anywhere in the nation through videoconferencing technology. During a live video chat session, students are able to ask the scientist questions about his or her experiences, education, and areas of expertise. Connecting scientists with students can help give real-life examples of science in action, introduce career opportunities, and help students learn how science is related to their everyday lives.
Grant funding provided by Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) will support a total of twenty live classroom connections under this Aquarium program during the 2017-18 school year.
The recorded live sessions are also used to produce a package of short videos with supporting materials that are available on PBS Learning. The videos feature interviews with scientists who talk about their responsibilities, daily activities, and the educational requirements their positions require, helping teachers connect their students to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In addition, the Aquarium has created teacher materials to accompany the videos and details on the National Standards and Next Generation Science Standards that the materials comply with.
In February 2017, a new video series was produced, focusing on the job of a plankton scientist. Through this series, scientist Cathy Garcia shares her experiences working as a scientist and the field work she completed aboard an oceanographic vessel to study plankton communities in the Indian Ocean.
This series, along with three additional series focusing on whale naturalist, aquarist, and veterinary technician careers, have collectively been viewed more than 700 times.