The Dunes Center provides free after school programming for students throughout our local area to provide them with an enriched after school experience. Our programs are administered by Cal Poly Interns who work to provide a fun, safe, and educational learning experience for our students. The focus of our programming this Spring has been Botany, which coincides with the sleuth of wildflowers blooming in the dunes and throughout the local area.
The 2016 Spring Botany program has been one of the Dunes Center’s largest to date, serving over 100 students at 7 different locations spanning 3 school districts. This program has been a fan favorite among students for a number of years now. During the 9 week program, students will have learned about plant physiology, photosynthesis and chlorophyll, the difference between angiosperms and gymnosperms, how seeds are dispersed, and the different plants that reside in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.
The botany program is unique in that it effectively teaches students about staple scientific concepts while tying in local plant life and making tangible connections for students. Students are able to read information in their program booklet, then immediately put that information to the test with hands-on activities.
Students explored how to collect evidence that plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis. They learned about different leaf and floral structures through dissections and leaf rubbings. They discovered how seeds are moved around by testing several types of seeds using different methods of dispersal. All of these activities and lessons are designed to increase scientific literacy, educate students about the dunes and the ecology of the dunes, and ultimately, foster the next generation of environmental stewards.