Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park
July 20, 2011
I am a science educator, so I have a deep appreciation of any organization that provides high quality science instruction, be it a school district, a for-profit or a non-profit organization. The Asombro Insititute for Science Education provides the best hands-on, minds-on science education based on local environment that I have encountered in my 30 years in education. Activities developed by the staff at AISE are based on real world science data, and often have data incorporated into them. The use of data gives students an opportunity to think about the numbers and what they mean, provide their own interpretations of the data and ask questions about what else the data can teach them. Instead of the rote memorization of science facts, students (both children and adults) learn how science works and what can be done with the information science provides. There are many opportunities for students to collect data in the field over a long period of time, and see how one data point does not make a trend, but 20 might. The field in this area is the Chihuahuan Desert, not the most inviting or sexy environment in which to learn. However, AISE staff and volunteers appreciate the stark beauty, environmental complexity, and intricate relationships that are found in the desert biome as much as those found in grasslands or forests, and everyone they teach is invited to share their appreciation. This makes those who participate in AISE educational programs more aware, knowledgeable and thoughtful citizens who really "get" why science is critical to our communities and our planet. That this small organization with three staff members reaches over 14,000 children and adults a year with their science lessons and activities is quite a testament to their commitment to quality science education in the Southwest, which includes the entire state of New Mexico and far West Texas.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
high school science instruction which allowed students to really understand how science works and what it means to them and others. I have trained teachers an pre-service teachers on how to use the outdoors as a classroom for science instruction using AISE materials. I have seen the numbers of students touched by the organization grow and seen how excited students can get about science that is relevant and fun.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
find larger and more secure funding sources so that the organization can grow, hire more staff and offer more quality science instruction to surrounding school districts and communities. I would also find a way to build a visitor's center on the 935 acre desert site the organization owns and uses for field trips.
Board Member & I helped develop early activities, I used the Schoolyard Desert Discovery activites to teach students, I volunteer for AISE events and I serve on the Board of Directors for this amazing organization.
Review from Guidestar