San Francisco University High School Program
- October 1, 2021 -
Over the past year, we witnessed the learning environment shift from the hands-on nature of the classroom to Zoom meetings and computer screens. Students are more than ready to re-engage in experiential science opportunities, and Headwaters Science Institute is excited to be back with students this fall, digitally in the classroom and in-person in the field. We were thrilled to kick the 2021-2022 school year off with the students of San Francisco University High School this September. As part of their Advanced Placement Environmental Science course curriculum, 28 students took part in an immersive in-class and field hybrid program to study how differences in abiotic conditions can affect plant biodiversity.
The program kicked off with Headwaters staff leading the students in two days of question asking activities and research plan development. Thanks to the hybrid nature of Headwaters programs, Headwaters staff and graduate student research mentors from both UC Berkeley (PhD candidate Ana Lyons) and San Francisco State University (MS student Leo Rodriguez) were able to join the students of SFUHS in their classroom remotely while still providing guidance and feedback on the student-driven research projects. Students developed diverse projects regarding how different characteristics such as elevation, slope, and soil chemistry affected plant biodiversity.

With the Marin Headlands of Golden Gate National Research Area as the backdrop for their field site, students worked in collaboration as research groups to collect the data needed to evaluate their research questions and hypotheses. A cool morning and light mist didn’t deter the students as they practiced techniques such as soil chemistry testing and quadrat sampling for plant biodiversity.

Each group analyzed their results and interpreted their findings to draw conclusions for their research question. The program culminated with student presentations to their classmates on their research.
This program, like all Headwaters’ programs, emphasized the importance of curiosity, communication, and collaboration in the scientific process. As one student commented at the end of the program, “I learned that I love fieldwork and that science is more collaborative than I would have thought!” Students in our programs improve their ability to apply the scientific method, gain exposure to professional scientists, and learn how to become a scientist themselves. 

We are so excited to provide these unique opportunities to students again this year. Teachers, if you are interested in a similar program for your students, please reach out to discuss options to best meet the needs for you and your students!

David Dimitrie

David Dimitrie

Program Director