March 17, 2023

Fifth Grade Students Build Confidence at Science Camp


To further the goal of inspiring students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the Culver City Education Foundation (CCEF) has partnered with the district to provide funding to send all fifth graders to an overnight science camp experience at the Pali Institute in the San Bernardino Mountains. Starting this school year, every fifth grader will have the chance to expand their understanding of the natural world and explore scientific concepts through hands-on activities and an experiential outdoor curriculum.

In the past, many of our elementary schools have raised funds from participating families to make this experience possible. With supportive funding from CCEF and the district, we are excited that more students will benefit from this memorable experience. At Pali Institute, students work together to improve problem solving techniques and develop leadership skills – both critical to their success throughout their academic journey.

The Pali Institute curriculum is designed to align with Common Core & Next Generation Science Standards. Taking STEM learning outside the classroom allows the students to take risks and learn to trust themselves. “I loved the high ropes course. It was hard to climb to the top because my hands were cold, but it was so rewarding when I got to jump off in ‘The Leap of Faith’ exercise. I also loved dissecting squid and owl pellets with my group, even though they didn’t smell good,” shared Nolan Vabulas, a student at La Ballona Elementary.

Fifth Grade Dual Immersion Teacher Sarah Nasser remarked at the way the program allowed her students’ confidence and self-esteem to grow in just three days’ time. “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that gave my students a sense of independence and socio-emotional growth. Since coming back from the trip my classroom environment has improved for the better. We are all connected in a special way. It was truly an unforgettable experience for the students and me!” Thank you to La Ballona Elementary for sharing their experience with the Pali Science Camp – we look forward to hearing more from the other schools as they embark on their spring trips! If you have the capacity to donate in honor of this CCEF-funded program, please make a gift to keep the fifth grade science camp trip available at no cost to families in future years, creating more equitable access to STEM learning for all CCUSD students.