Fresno State students mill past colorful booths lining “The Pit,” the outside seating area of the University Student Union, but often overlook a blue assemblance adorned with our solar system.
This booth represents the National Science Club, an organization devoted to supporting the interests of students in pursuit of teaching careers in science and mathematics. Members and officers can be seen socializing with passers-by and each other throughout the week at the booth.
Natural science is the lens used to understand life around us, Jaime Arvizu, the club’s faculty adviser, said.
“The lens encompasses biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics and physics,” he said.
Arvizu is the associate director and academic counselor under the Science and Mathematics Education Center (SMEC).
These different sciences assist in understanding how we fit within our environment, as well as our impact upon it, Arvizu said. Scientific advancement allows us to mitigate castrophes, resource depletion and the extinction of various species.
The club possesses potential for establishing a community in which students can develop effective and collaborative leadership visions, Arvizu said.
The club’s mission statement on its Google Sites website states its aim is to provide an outlet through which students pursuing teaching careers in mathematics and science can join together to build and share information, resources and career-goal-related materials.
“Community outreach is another component of the club’s mission which will enhance your learning about the science and math teaching field and help you prepare for the future of becoming teacher professionals,” it reads.
Damion Delton believes the club is quite successful in its mission. The 21-year-old former club president graduated from Fresno State last May with a degree in the biology option of natural science and went on to work at Mendota Junior High School, where he teaches seventh and eighth-grade science.
“The experience [of being involved with the Natural Science Club] allowed me to build connections with other future educators, which ultimately formed a group with similar interests and would help each other out with any questions,” Delton said.
As president from fall 2010 to spring 2011, Delton worked closely with Arvizu and the club’s officers to create opportunities, such as attending professional development-conferences for the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) or National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
Conferences like these offer strategies to develop better classroom-management skills and ways to create engaging activities to gain student interest, Delton said.
This past fall semester, Delton was able to receive the funding from Mendota Junior High to bring 45 students on a field trip to Fresno State for “Stellar Science,” a science and math event for middle-school students.
The program is sponsored by the SMEC and allows attending students to participate in hands-on activities, demonstrations and experiments overseen by Fresno State natural science and math majors.
The day long event’s seven stations range from fossil formation to geology and astronomy. Students spend about 15 minutes per station and, before moving from one station to the next, they are required to answer questions in their guides related to the designated activity. Students then receive a stamp from the station volunteer, allowing them to move on to the next station.
Delton said that the experience of bringing his students to “Stellar Science” was rewarding and believes the opportunity wouldn’t exist had he not been involved with the club during his time at Fresno State.
“My students were so appreciative and had a blast just getting out of their town, which many don’t leave,” Delton said.
He plans to bring students as often as the school allows because the students enjoy it and learn material that will be or has been taught in his class.
The club also assists the SMEC in hosting “Circuit Science.” The four-day event consists of elementary-school students visiting 10 stations that range from discovering the animal kingdom to geometry and physics.
Much like “Stellar Science,” students are given “passports” in which they must answer questions and receive stamps to move from station to station.
Those interested in learning more about the Natural Science Club are encouraged to visit the club’s booth Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the SMEC office in Room 101 of the Science Building or to email the club at email@example.com.