Tuesday, September 26 , 2017, 3:38 am | Fair 55º


Ernest Righetti High School Students to Explore the Wonders of Yosemite

The wonders of Yosemite will be shared by a class of high school students, many of whom have never been out of Santa Maria.

Ernest Righetti High School senior Melissa Steller has organized a trip called the "Steller Science Expedition" this Saturday through Monday. The experience for 25 students is part of teacher Dr. David Preston's Open Source Learning curriculum that engages students to collaborate, work together toward a common goal and enlist help along the way. The program accomplishes English literature and composition requirements and allows students to take action through the use of technology.

Steller's project within Dr. Preston's "Masterpiece Academy" reflects her enthusiasm for learning by experiencing nature.

"Growing up I have always had a passion for the environment,'' Steller said in her course blog. "Yosemite has always been my home away from home and is where I find my solitude. It's where I do my best thinking and feel most at peace. For my senior project, I wanted my classmates to get a taste of what goes goes on inside my mind so I planned a trip to take them up there."

Steller began her project last May with a visit to the park and a genuine desire to express and share the adventure.

Each student in Dr. Preston's courses pursues his or her own path. Current projects include an amazingly diverse range of topics: in the last few days students have taught each other about their learning journeys through architecture, cooking, renewable energy, bodybuilding, and big animal veterinary medicine. Students are presenting their projects and blogs during the next few weeks.

"The projects had to embody our passions, connect us to the real world and engage our classmates, so I knew my chance to make this trip happen had arisen,'' Steller said. "Yosemite has a huge place in my heart. If I had my own dictionary you could look up the word passion and the word Yosemite would be there next to it in bold! Everyone there is your friend, there is positive energy and it's just infectious.''

The trip will not only build personal connections, but offer the students information about geology, geography, science and other disciplines. They will receive information from the Nature Bridge Program, which specializes in environmental science. The group will stay in cabins at the Crane Flat campus, which is on the edge of the wilderness and next to a grove of giant Sequoias.

Students Kylie Sagisi and Kendall Villa, who will see this natural wonder for the first time, know their journeys are about building connections — one of the open source learning program's main ingredients.

Dr. Preston's approach includes the principles of the Common Core — collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity — and gives students the opportunity to "venture into new boundaries outside the classroom."

"We are challenging the idea that learning only happens in the classroom,'' said Dr. Preston, adding the students organized and planned their own assignments from the start. "We are disrupting the idea that we are locked into passive consumer roles. These students are learning entrepreneurs who create and contribute value in our community. And they are aiming high. For something like Yosemite, you just can't talk about it ...you just have to go.''

The trip costs nearly $8,000. Although most of the money has been raised with fundraisers and donations, Steller said, more funds are needed before the new adventurers of the natural world embark on their journey. Donations can be mailed to the Steller Science Expedition, 405 E. Clark, Orcutt, CA 93455, or dropped off at the Old Town Market in Orcutt.

Check out Steller's blog by clicking here.

— Kenny Klein is a media affairs coordinator for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk encourages free expression, regardless of viewpoint, but requires that such expressions be civil in tone, respectful of other commenters and relevant to the stories on which they are posted. We reserve the right to remove any comment for any reason.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree not to submit a comment that is abusive, defamatory, disrespectful, illegal, libelous, profane, vulgar or disparaging (whether on the basis of disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, traits with which people are born, or otherwise).

» Agree not to submit a comment that attacks or threatens another person, threatens or promotes violence, wishes for harm to befall another person, invades another person's privacy or proprietary rights, or uses expletives (including veiled profanity).

» Agree not to stalk or harass another person, dominate the conversation, discourage participation by others, or bait, belittle, bicker with, mock or taunt others.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

» Comments with spam or self-promotional links are not allowed. Comments that include links are automatically routed to a Pending queue. Regularly checking it is not a priority of ours.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >