Hands on education at Clovis West's on-campus pond

FRESNO, Calif.

Valley Oak Elementary students started their field trip off on a science mission, and they didn't have to go too far, just to Clovis West. The high school has an environmental pond on campus.

"Kids are going to be looking at the life of the pond through microscopes, using nets and buckets to try and scoop out some of the dragon fly larva and nymphs living in the pond," said Environmental Science Teacher Gavin Gladding. "They're going to be doing chemical testing and it's all about science."

And the teachers were none other than Clovis West students, who were paired up with groups of fifth graders.

Clovis West student Katherine Culver said, "I thought it was a little nerve wracking at first but once we got into the flow of it, our kids are really smart so they got everything easily and I got everything easily so it went hand in hand."

Environmental Science student Katherine Culver said the teaching experience motivated her to brush up on her reading. The leaders took students to six different stations to learn and engage in science.

Culver said, "They really liked the critters to look at them and see how disgusting they are. That's funny."

A grant from Fresno Metro Flood Control helped spruce up the pond and provide resources. The environmental pond was built in 2007 and instructors say it's providing a classroom experience like no other.

Gladding said, "That's the best part of this and I'm all about outdoor education and hands on is the way the kids have an experience that they remember."

Under the grant, this is the first field trip or the program. In the future, staff hopes to invite other schools to learn at the pond.

The Clovis West pond also offers renewable energy resource education and ecosystem studies to nearly 700 students every year in biology, general sciences and AP environmental science classes.

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