Oakland students take over Chabot Space and Science Center as part of innovative program

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A group of young scientists took over Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland on Tuesday to present exhibits they designed themselves, exploring the world around them. 

The event was part of an on-going pilot program that has brought Hillcrest middle school students to the Space and Science Center every week on Tuesdays, when the facility is closed to the public.

Kids have had access to the entire facility to take part in hands-on, interactive learning, focused on science literacy and critical thinking. 

They've also been encouraged to explore the facility's surrounding areas and to learn about nature by being a part of it. Nestled in the Redwood Regional Park, kids, grades 6th though 8th, took hikes and held learning sessions outdoors.

"Classrooms can also have walls that are made up of redwood trees and a ceiling that is made up of canopy trees and blue skies," wrote middle school English language arts teacher, Claudia Staniford in a newsletter about the innovative program.  
Dubbed the "Chabot Satellite Academy," it's a collaborate effort between Hillcrest and the Space and Science Center, designed to awaken the scientist in each student, "through a holistic interdisciplinary model that utilizes the interconnectedness of science, math, reading, writing, art and history," wrote Staniford.  

Much of the learning has been centered on finding solutions on issues affecting their community and the world around them: waste/litter, climate change, human health, and income equality.

Tuesday's exhibit was a culmination of the program. It featured 33 exhibits that explored areas including circuits, thermal conduction, the science of sound and motion, and space.

Students from the rest of the school were bused to Chabot to view the exhibits, project slideshows, planetarium shows and take part in interactive learning themselves.

The excited middle schoolers presented their projects with pride, eager to show and teach what they had learned through the process.

It was an opportunity to showcase how hands-on, holistic learning can shape young minds and for those in attendance, they were given a promising glimpse of what our future scientists and researchers may look like.