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Guest Article: CuriOdyssey – Giving Kids the Superpower of Science
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Many of you may know CuriOdyssey from last year’s CLSA “Bio by the Bay” reception that took place at at our science center and zoo in August. Over 150 CLSA members had the opportunity to experience CuriOdyssey’s exhibits, visit with our animals, and learn more about our work giving kids the superpower of science. For those of you that are new to CuriOdyssey, we are a serious playground and zoo designed to give young children the power of real science. We offer a comprehensive array of STEM education programs, hands-on interactive science exhibits and a wildlife program, all designed to educate and inspire. Annually, CuriOdyssey reaches an audience of more than 90,000 children of all ages with interactive, inquiry-based STEM experiences that teach them to observe, experiment and think like scientists so they have the tools to take on the real-world challenges of the future.

A boy builds a marble run, learning principles of engineering and spatial thinking.

According to the STEM Network, seven of the fastest-growing occupations are in STEM fields, making STEM education a key part of career-readiness. Yet the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) says that only 36% of high school students are ready for college level science, while over 80% of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. are in science fields. In California, 25% of students attend schools that do not offer calculus; 15% attend schools that do not offer physics; and 10% go to schools that do not have chemistry classes. Clearly, this is an issue that will have far-reaching impact on our county. As you know, San Mateo county is an economic engine of the Bay Area and one of the most desirable places to live and raise a family.

Bud, our new Harris’s hawk.

Support for schools and students has long been a part of our DNA. Our overall goals and programming are closely aligned with the California Life Sciences Institute’s (CLSI) mission to maintain California’s leadership in life sciences innovation. We are committed to helping foster the next wave of life science professionals through cutting-edge, hands-on STEM offerings that adhere to Next Generation Science Standards, the state-mandated means of improving science education, and to inspiring interest in STEM careers. To that end, we recently started a teacher professional development program with grant funding from Genentech, helping teachers gain the competence confidence, comfort and capacity to teach science, which in turn helps to ensure student success. We are expanding this program into the nonprofit and preschool sectors through new partnerships with Peninsula Family Service and the Bing Nursery School at Stanford.

We offer multiple funding opportunities and numerous hands-on volunteer projects at our magnificent Coyote Point Park location in San Mateo and are eager to form new alliances that will capitalize on our shared mission and goals. For example, Genentech recently supplied employee volunteers to do a marsh restoration project. By learning to think like scientists early on, kids will grow up to ask probing questions, think critically and take intelligent action. With this investment, we will pave the way for future scientists and informed citizens for generations to come.