East LA students get creative science curriculum

Environmental scientist Sabrina Drill demonstrates a science lesson for a group of East Los Angeles fifth- and sixth-graders.
Environmental scientist Sabrina Drill demonstrates a science lesson for a group of East Los Angeles fifth- and sixth-graders. Patricia Nazario/KPCC

Some East Los Angeles elementary school students are learning about nutrition and the environment through some pretty creative hands-on activities. Scientists at the UC Cooperative Extension in L.A. County smashed bran cereal with water inside plastic sandwich bags and used a magnet to draw out the iron.

The fifth- and sixth-graders are also learning how to protect their neighborhoods with lessons in water preservation, recycling toxins and sustainable land use. Environmental scientist Sabrina Drill says the key to protecting oceans from pollution are watersheds:

“It’s the area of land that drains into a single lake or river. So, in Los Angeles we think about the L.A. River watershed, the San Gabriel watershed and the other big one really is the Biona Creek watershed,” Drill says.

Those bodies of water lead to the sea. The kids simulated sediment transfer by dousing chocolate sprinkles onto a plastic hill and using skirt bottles to create rain.

Young students across the country will be participating in similar events next week during National 4-H Week. The curriculum is tied to University of California research and teaches kids about good nutrition, environmental responsibility and science.

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