Introduction to Service-Learning in the STEM Disciplines

SSU is one of five CSU campuses actively developing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) service-learning initiatives with help from a grant from Learn and Serve America. SSU's SWEEP program offers students a coherent educational experience by focusing projects on topics related to sustainable watersheds and by locating field work in Copeland Creek and adjacent properties. (See Place-Based Learning in the Copeland Creek Watershed.) Figure 1 depicts a popular spot along the Creek Trail in the Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

Copeland Creek waterfall

Figure 1. Copeland Creek (Fairfield Osborn Preserve)

During the 2010-2011 school year, the Learn and Serve grant supported partnerships between SSU faculty, students, and Sonoma County organizations, and at least eleven service-learning classes in biology, chemistry, ENSP, and geology. (See On-Campus Partners and Featured Service-Learning Projects and Classes.)

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If we want our students to lead creative,
productive, responsible lives, we must give them opportunities
to learn in ways that have consequences for others, as well as for themselves. I know of no better way to invoke the many facets of cognitive development, moral reasoning and social responsibility than to engage students in service-learning opportunities. At its best, a service-learning experience can be
transformative. Clearly learning within
a context of responsibility is powerful.
-Judith A. Ramaley, National Science Foundation

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