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UCSB Students’ ‘Where the Wonder Went’ Film Features Local Science Educators

It’s no secret that in our country, science education is troubled. But here in our backyard, dedicated educators are working to bring science education back.

Where the Wonder Went, a new film by UCSB graduate students Bryan Latchford and Casey O’Hara, shows the efforts of these local educators and how they are changing the lives of students in the community. It will be shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art at 10 a.m. Sunday and next Thursday.

The film features educators Amir Abo-Shaeer, director of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, and Zach King, a garden educator at Monroe Elementary School, talking about what they have done in their programs to change education for the better.

With nearly 400 students planned for the 2014-15 school year, the Engineering Academy is perhaps best known for competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge, but DPEA also teaches high school students using a revolutionary new program featuring project-based learning rather than worksheets and tests. Students learn everything from painting to soldering to computer programming, but the entire program is taught through projects, such as a light sculpture that lets students encounter a wide array of disciplines.

In the film, Abo-Shaeer discusses the origin of this method and how he think DPEA can serve as a model for other schools.

At Monroe Elementary on the Mesa, King is working to bring environmental science back to its roots. He teaches students at his elementary school the wonders of the environment, not through worksheets and lectures, but through hands-on gardening. His work allows students to interact with the environment in a way that no lecture ever could. His students plant and harvest their own crops, all while learning science.

Where the Wonder Went was produced by students in UCSB’s Green Screen class.

“We realized that although the state of science education in America is dire,” Latchford said. “We didn't want to do a film that was depressing and focused on just this, so we reached out to teachers and programs that were reinvigorating the wonders of science in their students.”

Click here for more information about the film festival or to buy tickets.

— Kenyon Prater is a member of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy's Communications Team.

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