On Monday November 30th, after having our training on natural selection, two interns each showed their own presentation to the interns.
One intern, Rubi, taught us about a special part of science, public health. Rubi is now in college and taught all us interns about public health! She prepared a twenty-minute training for the interns which talked about what public health is, different aspects of public health, epidemiology (study of what is upon the people and factors affecting the health and illness of populations) and the three types of studies public health officials do.
Mark, who does research with the aquarium’s husbandry department, also taught us about the Academy’s Touch Tide pool filtration system. It seemed like just a tank and amazing animals at first, but Mark explained the many complicated and intricate components used to keep the water clean such as UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, and bioballs. UV sterilizers kill various diseases, protein skimmers take out excess food and waste, and bioballs take ammonia that is fatal to the animals and converts them to nitrites that aren’t dangerous.
This was a very unique training; it was led by interns, and included more about science applied in the public, rather than science content. It’s always very interesting to hear about all the various types of careers in the science fields as well as facts about the Academy, especially from interns themselves! As interns, we are always learning about career choices to get a glimpse of what a career in science would be like.
Interns have been working on four projects for the fall semester of the Intern Program. We refer to them as ‘Project Groups,’ which is a small group of interns that work on a project for the Intern Program. We use project groups so that everyone gets to work as a team to reach a common goal and get a defined understanding of a specific subject. Project Groups can work on things like making new stations, learning new skills, or the Intern Program’s newsletter. The four projects that are in progress now are Extreme Mammals, Parasites, Entomology, and Newsletter.
The Extreme Mammals and Parasites Project Group are on their way to becoming new demonstration stations for the interns. We have five stations that we presently teach on the public floor; Food Webs Demonstration, Beetle Dichotomous Key Station, Limb Homology Interactive, Penguin Interpreter, and Touch Tank. All of these stations relate to the Academy’s mission statement to explore, explain, and protect the natural world. The Extreme Mammals group will be about extinct, extreme, or big, California Mammals. The Parasites group will be about different types and kinds of parasites that affect ecosystems. They have and are going through several revisions so that they’re ready to be taught on the floor.
The third project group was created because of our trip to Trinity Alps this past July where we collected insects and other organisms with Roberta Brett from the education department. The Entomology group is helping Roberta identify and pin the specimens collected from this trip. The majority of the specimens are insects, but we also have some spiders and larvae included. Once all of it is sorted through, it will be added to the Academy’s entomology collection. This project also relates to our Beetle Dichotomous Key Station where we help guest identify beetles from different parts of the world, but instead the interns are using their knowledge of the dichotomous key to identify the specimens collected.
Finally there’s Newsletter group. I’m apart of newsletter this semester and have helped put together the fall edition of Spotlight.
Last training, in honor of the 150th anniversary reading of Darwin and Wallace’s letters, the interns received an eye-opening training about evolution. I know I didn’t understand it very well before this training. But afterwards the topic seemed much more interesting, and even fun.
Evolution is the foundational theory of biology, nothing in biology makes sense without evolution. The main theme of the training was to explain exactly what evolution was, and the scientific discoveries which led up to Darwin’s theory of Natural selection. Evolution was a process which had been observed years before Darwin theorized how animals and their populations changed over time. Darwin’s theory of natural selection explained why this happened. Even if his theory had never been discovered, scientists would have continued to study evolution, to figure out why this vital process happens.
We did many different activities which showed variation as a result of Natural selection. We examined bell peppers and counted the number of seeds to see the difference among individuals in the same species. We also looked at Cowry shells, and ladybugs to do the same.
This felt important to me, because I feel there is a lot of misinformation about evolution floating around, and most of the public doesn’t have a very good idea of what it is. I sure didn’t.
One of the key steps to going to college is to write a personal statement. On October 15th,the interns had a special training about the story only you can tell, aka personal statements led by Careers in Science Manager, Eric Godoy. He gave us tips, tricks, and things to avoid when writing personal statements. The training was very helpful for the interns applying to college in the near future.
Personal statements are college essays where you are able to demonstrate who you are to prospective colleges. In a regular application, the reader does not get an in depth look at who the applicant is, but a personal statement helps provide context for an applicants scholastic record and it allows the applicant to go in-depth on a specific topic. We learned a few tips to help us write the personal statements. Tips for personal statements are to relax, be honest, be personal, be consistent, and don’t guess what the admissions offices will be looking for. We learned a few things to avoid, but one of the things that I did not know to avoid were the immigration stories because they do not give insight into exactly who you are, just where you came from.
Next, we got to see some of the prompts that have been used in previous years at UC’s and on the Common Application. Seeing the different prompts gave us insight into what the colleges may be asking. One of the UC prompts was to “describe the world you come from-for example, your family, community, or school—and tell how your world has shaped your dreams or aspirations.” Intern Nicollette found the training very useful, “The training helped me learn exactly what goes into a personal statement. It really helped me remember that a personal statement is the story only you can tell. Now I have a good idea of what I will write about for my own!”