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Hands-on fun at Science in the Park

World Economic Forum statistics can be hard to choke down. Its comparison of quality ranks mathematics and science education in the United States 52nd in the world. When comparing the proportion of college students earning undergraduate degrees in science or engineering among developing nations, it ranks 27th. Of engineers earning their PhDs from U.S. universities, more than two-thirds are not U.S. citizens. Science in the Park is working to change these statistics one student at a time, or perhaps a few thousand, right here in Alameda County.

A free event, Science in the Park offers 70 hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) experiences aimed primarily at elementary-school and middle-school students. The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 4 at Alden E. Oliver Sports Park in Hayward.

Students can create and launch simple water rockets, compete in an egg dropping contest, spin art with bikes, and use chemistry to create Ooblecks, with properties of both solids and liquids. Chabot College professor Scott Hildreth will bring telescopes for sky-gazing.

Canopied booths will house experiments and activities spread over one and a half soccer fields; bounce houses at one corner will give students a chance to work off kinetic energy. Food trucks and a farm stand with items for sale will occupy the parking lot, along with fire trucks and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad. And since health relies on science, there will be free health information and free flu shots.

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Gathering to teach, to learn, to share

When considering the upcoming Gathering of Ohlone Peoples, one might ask, why gathering? It sounds vaguely harvest-like, and why peoples, not just people? Christina Garcia, acting supervising naturalist for East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) at Coyote Hills, said that event founder Bev Ortiz had the best answer to the peoples part of the question: Ohlone is a modern word that groups some 58 independent tribes, under a single name based on the common roots of the languages they spoke. Ortiz, who was a naturalist at the park when she founded the Gathering, is now the Park DistrictÕs Cultural Services Coordinator.

So, said Garcia, that explains the peoples part. Why Gathering? I think its because this is different from a reunion where, even if you dont see them often, you know everyone, and its not just a yearly get-together of people with things in common. Gathering means to bring together or assemble from various places, sources, or people. It means to collect gradually, one-by-one and that is how this event has grown.

According to EBRPD, the District encompasses the homelands of about 25 tribes. Each tribe had three to five villages, communities of about 200 people each, whose residents spoke variants of three languages: Ohlone (Costanoan), Bay Miwok, and Delta Yokuts.

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Got wildlife? We do!

Celebrate with the Ohlone Humane Society (OHS) Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on Saturday, October 4, when we open our doors for a rare peek behind-the-scenes at our wildlife hospital. Learn about local wildlife, take a hospital tour, meet the animals, and take part in nature craft. All ages are welcome to stop by anytime between noon and 3:00 p.m.

When I tell people I volunteer at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center as a wildlife care rehabilitator, I always get the same inquisitive look. You volunteer doing what? After I explain what it is, I always get the same response: I had no idea there was a need for that. Of course wildlife rehabilitation is not your average everyday subject; it is truly a unique profession.

So why would the wild critters of the Tri-Cities need rehabilitation? When wild animals get sick, injured or orphaned, they need a place to go for medical help; they depend on assistance from wildlife rehabilitators. Wildlife rehabilitators are trained, skilled, and licensed people who provide care to wildlife in need. We have received orphaned ducklings whose mother was killed by a car, a Red Tailed Hawk who had a bullet injury to her wing, and a nest full of baby birds that fell from a tree while it was being trimmed.
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