The educational process is headed back to the park this summer with the second annual KEEN Science in the Park, which gets underway on Monday at Mountain View Park.

The nine-week program runs Monday through Sunday at five Ellensburg parks and on Sunday’s at Carey Lake for ages 5 through 14.

“This is the second year and we’ve come up with nine weeks of multiple projects for anybody that’s really interested in science. It’s not a babysitting service where you drop your kids off for an hour. We have a five-day a week lesson plan that we’re pretty excited about,” said program designer Tom Duke.

KEEN Science in the Park coincides with the Fish Food Bank Lunch in the Park and the Ellensburg Public Library Reading in the Park programs. All three run as separate entities, but for example students for Science in the Park can grab lunch before their session, which starts around 1-1:30 p.m. following lunch, and can certainly stick around for the reading program.

There will be two Science in the Park sessions this year. The afternoon session will run Tuesday (at Kiwanis), Wednesday (West Ellensburg) and Thursday (North Alder), beginning after lunch is completed.

The evening program runs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday. There is no Saturday program, but Sundays are scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. at Carey Lake.

With the addition to the evening sessions, they have also brought Central Washington University student teacher Ana Garcia with the Teach STEM program at CWU on board to run Science in the Park. Garcia is bilingual and organizers hope to utilize her skill set to help bridge any language barriers and encourage the Hispanic community to get further involved in this unique learning tool.

“I like the idea that it’s a way for me to get out into the community and be a part of something educational that’s about science,” Garcia said. “My goal is to teach elementary school students, so this is a great opportunity. With this project, we’re going to have a new lesson plan every week that will involve a wide range of age groups.”

The nine-week program begins on Monday and runs through Aug. 16 at various park locations throughout the city. The program is designed to connect students to nature with innovative ways of learning. The program is still be developed, but the week one agenda will consist of a scavenger hunt and rubbings making pictographs of various items found in the park. Week two will involve the study of the four directions and botany. Week three will include Native American studies, including the Medicine Wheel and its four properties of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, as well as the four directions and their significance.

“Not everybody can get off during the day, which is why we added the evening program so that parents can be involved if they want,” Duke said. “Some of our lesson plans include building compasses, pin wheels, developing maps and a number of things that utilize basic science.”

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.ycic.org/science-in-the-parks or call 509-551-8807.

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