Innovation LIVE! Events Draw Hundreds Each Week

CVESD’s 'Station' Experiences Pivoted to Virtual Events after Pandemic
Posted on 12/18/2020
Kids Enjoying Distance Learning Activity

From dissecting a squid to building a solar tower, students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District explore exciting science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics activities during distance learning through weekly Innovation LIVE! events.

Each Friday afternoon, hundreds of students tune in online to see what CVESD’s innovation teachers have planned to promote creativity and stimulate learning. Guided by an innovation teacher online, students have learned about engineering design and construction, physical activity and wellness, and the life and body structure of mollusks, to name a few recent lessons.

“Our District is amazing in that in prioritizes outdoor, out-of-the classroom experiences that really get into the field of learning,” said Karen Quirós, CVESD science resource teacher at the Living Coast Discovery Center. “We can’t have students on site right now, so it is really important for us to bring our activities to them. We want to continue to inspire them to learn about the world around them.”

Teacher teaching virtual classThe online activities have been a huge hit. The sessions have fun, catchy titles like “Something Squiddy with Mrs. Quirós.” Attendance online has grown dramatically each week.

“It’s a lot more motivational for students to see a live animal and then want to learn about it instead of maybe just reading about it in a book. So, we enhance their science curriculum here at the Living Coast,” Mrs. Quirós said.

Long before the pandemic struck, CVESD had created a series of interactive learning experiences called Innovation Station, Energy Station, Hydro Station, and Health Station. The Living Coast Discovery Center had also been an annual field study experience for students from across the District. A stellar lineup of partnerships with public and private agencies and organizations helps foster student interest in STEAM fields.

When schools closed to in-person instruction last March, and student instruction was delivered solely through distance learning, CVESD’s Station experiences also had to pivot. The innovation team developed a series of interactive online learning experiences they rolled out on Fridays that they dubbed Innovation LIVE!

Innovation team members Christy Bystrak, Christopher Garcia, Melissa Hughes, Karen Quirós, Ricardo Ramirez, and Instructional Services Coordinator Michael Bruder all contribute to the virtual events.

squid dissectionAttendance really took off with support of the YMCA. The District formed a partnership with the YMCA of San Diego County and South Bay Family YMCA (collectively “YMCA”) to provide the Distance Learning Support Program (DLSP). The full-day program assists about 1,000 students from our neediest families at each school site, including the children of essential workers.

“When the pandemic started, we were all unfamiliar how to do this virtually,” said YMCA Quality Program Coordinator Priscilla Garza. “We were a little apprehensive and not knowledgeable how we could continue activities with our students. What we found is that now that we are virtual, and doing Zoom, we can capture a bigger audience at once.”

The collaboration between teachers and organizations to support the Innovation LIVE! events has allowed even more students to connect and interact with one another virtually and on the chat boards during activities. Each Friday, DLSP students make sure all of their tasks are completed so that they can participate in the activities and lessons.

“We know that people, students, the business community, and all of our partners and teachers are all embracing this mode of education with our Friday virtual learning experiences,” said Matthew Tessier, Ed.D., assistant superintendent for innovation and instruction. “That tells us that our vision of continuing this STEAM-focused exposure virtually, continuing this innovation, will and really should continue to happen even after the pandemic ends.”

More exciting and interesting activities are planned, so look for information on how to join us in being open to innovation.

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