What One LAUSD Teacher Does on Summer Vacation Will Benefit Her Future Students

LOS ANGELES (June 1, 2012) – While many students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will be going on vacations sleeping in and getting recharged during their summer break, one teacher will be studying ecology in Ecuador.

Bravo Medical Magnet High School Science Teacher Isabel Pérez was accepted as a fellow for Earthwatch, an organization of scientists, educators, students and business people who work together to get the fullest benefit from scientific research. She will be studying climate change and how it affects caterpillars.

In the open-air laboratory, Pérez will help raise caterpillars and record their relationships with plants and parasitoids, which complements her zoology lesson plans.

“It would be great to give my students first- hand information that I’ve actually done. Our school is next to a park with a low-level water/high grass creek running along it, and I would like to do some type of ecological study with my students, but I’m not exactly sure how to go about it or what to look for. Hopefully, the experience I gain from Earthwatch will help me come up with an inquiry-based, hands-on activity for my students.”

Pérez also will be teaching her students the latest research news. She looks forward to finding caterpillars and sharing with students what she observed with native California butterflies.

“I hope this will help students become aware that they can be proactive in their community or at least get the word out there are ways to prevent invasive species from spreading and to encourage them, their family, and friends to use native species when planting gardens,” she said.

Pérez hopes her research inspires students to learn more about the sciences. “I would like to come up with a lesson plan that involved chemistry, integrated with ecology because there are so many of my students, who don’t see why chemistry is relevant,” said Pérez. “Maybe, I can motivate students to understand the need for chemistry in higher education and get them interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers, my 16-year-old-daughter included.”