The Perfect Place to Learn
Sometimes we visit new places in order to see things that we have never before seen, or to hear things that we have never before heard, or to experience things that we have only read about in books. But despite our initial motivation for visiting a new place, we always learn. Learning is the single most important objective in the Conservation Education Lab (CEL) at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research.
Established in 2006, the CEL is a fully equipped research laboratory where students, teachers, and members of the community are given the opportunity to learn firsthand about the importance of biodiversity and the critical tools and techniques used to conserve it.
Some of our most enthusiastic visitors to the CEL are science students. During the 2009-2010 school year more than 5,000 students from kindergarten to graduate school from all over Southern California spent a day learning in the CEL.
These visiting students used science to address a myriad of conservation questions. Some employed the amazingly informative tool of DNA to diagnose gender in condors, to document the presence of the deadly chytrid fungus in frog swab samples, or to identify species being exploited for the bushmeat crisis.
Others used fecal samples to determine the reproductive status of African elephant females or used radio telemetry to monitor populations released back into the wild. We even host students once school is out, as part of our exciting and informative “Wild CSI” summer camp! This year our science campers are working hard to solve a reproductive mystery involving giant pandas.
But it is not just science students that spend time in the CEL; we also host science teachers. This summer, 97 middle and high school life science teachers from around the nation will spend two days and three nights immersing themselves in the science of saving species with the largest zoo-based research team in the world.
Our teacher partners will engage in a wide variety of science activities, not only experiencing everything that our visiting students do, but other teacher-centric projects too! For example, our visiting teachers will help to document the diversity and abundance of wildlife in San Diego County, they will use sophisticated bioacoustic equipment to take a closer listen at animal audio communication, and they will examine the effects of climate change on a variety of ecosystems and their inhabitants.
No matter what your age, the Conservation Education Lab is the perfect place to learn.