(June 6, 2012) -- The fourth-grade class of Eva Dominguez can tell you all about biomes and tree rings. They can even tell you what sustainability is and why it's important. The Lackland City Elementary class just wrapped up a yearlong series of science lessons, brought to their classroom by UTSA undergraduates and graduate students in environmental science.
The program, dubbed Educating Youth in Ecology (or EYE), comes at a critical time when district budgets are tight and field trip money is at a minimum. It is funded by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S.D.A Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants program.
"Ninety-four percent of Lackland City's students come from economically disadvantaged homes," said Janis Bush, UTSA director of the environmental science academic programs, associate professor of environmental science and director of the UTSA Teaching and Research in Environmental Ecology (TREE) program.
"We developed the curriculum ourselves with the fourth grade students in mind," Bush said. "A lot of what we taught them was entirely new to them."
For the last five months, 11 UTSA students traveled to Lackland City Elementary each month to teach the bilingual fourth graders about the environment. The UTSA students used a variety of hands-on activities to teach their key topics, which included plant parts and pigments; tree types, sizes and growth; forests; natural resources; conservation and sustainability.
"We talked about the wildlife and about the different biomes of Texas -- the different ecological areas of Texas. Boy, they really got excited talking about all the different birds and mammals and reptiles," said Chad Sundol, who just earned his bachelor's degree in biology at UTSA.
The same day, Anna Boeck, a UTSA doctoral student in engineering and environmental science, brought speakers to the classroom and played the sound of a leopard frog to engage the kids.
Over the course of the semester, the class read and discussed "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss, planted honey mesquite tree seeds and measured their seedlings.
"I can't say enough about how rewarding this has been for us to see them so excited about us coming and excited about learning," said UTSA alumna Jennifer Guerrero, who just completed her master's degree in environmental science and will begin her doctoral studies in cell and molecular biology at UTSA this fall. "Hopefully, we're getting them thinking about a university education now. That's another goal. It's a lot of hard work, but we do have fun."
UTSA will take the EYE program back to Lackland City Elementary this fall.
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Aspiring doctor hopes to change medical attitudes toward obesity-related ailments
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
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