Nature and Science Curriculum Spotlight

Nature and Science Curriculum Writer Marina HydemanGreetings from the curriculum department! This week I (Ryan Kochevar) sat down with nature and science writer Marina Hydeman to talk all things curriculum.  

RK: Marina is our nature and science curriculum writer for our EDMO and PRO programs, that’s for campers in 1st through 8th grades. She’s here with me today to answer some questions I have. 

MH: Looking forward to it!  

RK: So, first question, how long have you been a curriculum writer for Camp EDMO? 

MH: I’ve been writing curriculum for Camp EDMO for about a year and a half now. I wrote our nature programs last summer and this is now my second summer of curriculum writing.  

RK: Currently, what is the most exciting thing to you about writing curriculum for Camp EDMO? 

MH: Oh man, I definitely am a child at heart and curriculum writing really taps into my love of exploration and investigation, and everything that I love about science. I’m excited that I get to do it every day!  

RK: Very cool. When you’re writing curriculum, what do you do for inspiration? 

MH: For a lot of my nature programs, I take my laptop to the park or the beach on my work from home days and that helps me think of cool ideas. I become inspired by things that catch my eye, or interesting issues that come up while I’m outside. Going outdoors is how I get inspiration for my programs.  

RK: Right now, what is an exciting project you are working on? 

MH:  I have spent all day today looking into the different methods of fingerprinting used at crime scenes for our Forensics Lab curriculum. I wasn’t super excited about that aspect of the curriculum at the beginning, but now that I’m delving deeper into it, there are so many super cool things that you can do to pull fingerprints!  

RK: Like Hawaii Five 0! When you’re working on the curriculum, it’s a process, and there is a lot of trial and error. What is an idea or a project you’ve used in your curriculum that you found to be really successful?  

MH: One that immediately comes to mind is the Body Builders, where we took these awesome ideas from a previous curriculum and I had the chance to EDMO-fy it, if I can make up a word. 

RK: EDMO-fy is a word! 

MH: Excellent. So, I had the chance to EDMO-fy this existing project and tried to infuse it both with biology that I know really well and with the maker spirit. When we tested the project out in our school year programs, the kids did a great job! The project worked as expected, the instructors loved it and the kids loved it.  

RK: Very good! But how about on the other side, have you had an epic failure? 

MH: Not at EDMO, no. A few bumps here or there might be, supplies, or miscommunications on projects but nothing that extreme. I know in my personal life I have definitely had some project failures, though. I am an avid cook and I like to think of cooking as science at home. 

RK: And making at home! 

MH: Making at home, exactly. For example, the first time I ever tried to make pasta was for a friend’s birthday. I attempted to make it vegetarian and paleo and also delicious to people who only ate meat. Chestnut flour ravioli stuffed with artichokes seemed like just the thing. We tried to roll the dough out without a machine, on the floor of my college apartment on a tarp. And then my fingers turned black, Ryan, from all the artichokes! I’m sorry to say, that pasta was not delicious. It was an example of a lot of work without the reward of a lot of success. 

RK: Ravioli can be like that sometimes. 

MH: I did recently make successful ravioli, though. Tried it with different tools and supervision from someone that knew what they were doing. It was much more successful! But that initial failure was good practice in learning that no matter how hard you work on something, it still might not work out the way you want it to, and that’s totally fine. You just pick it up, sweep the chestnut flour off the floor and try again.  

RK: That sounds like quite an adventure. Whether you are mashing artichokes for ravioli or writing nature and science curriculum, it’s clear to me that you are inspired by all things science. For those that don’t know you, can you share your scientific background with us? 

HK: I was born to be a scientist. I’ve always been interested in science. As a kid, I was crawling around on my hands and knees in the mud looking at salamanders. I started working at the zoo when I was 12 and then ended up actually working in research biology for a minute, and by a minute I mean 4 years.  

RK: That’s a little longer than a minute. 

MH: Yes, a little. I was researching amphibians, amphibian diseases and ways that we can save them. I spent a long time in the laboratory and now it is nice to be back out in the real world.  

RK: I see. Obviously, your background in research and your love of science made for a seamless transition into Summer Camp nature and science curriculum writing. 

MH: Absolutely! 

RK: Okay, last question. You have this background in science, and I am curious what it was like to first realize you wanted to spend your life working in that field? Is there a moment from your youth or your childhood that got you hooked on science? 

MH: Oh, Man! 

MH: Totally! I grew up in San Francisco, as a city kid, but during the summers my family would take us out to a farm in Vermont. I remember running around, picking up frogs (always the amphibians with me!) and looking at the different kinds. I would watch them metamorphose and it was so fascinating! I think my first “aha” moment that I wanted to spend my life in science was in high school. I had this teacher, Geoff, at the Urban School of San Francisco in the Haight, and he taught a geology class. We went out on a field trip and getting a bunch of high schoolers really excited about rocks is no small feat, but he was so enthusiastic that we were all pumped on those rocks, too. We were hiking down the beach, Baker Beach, and he said, “Check out this boulder!” We were like, “It’s a big boulder!”  It was a serpentine boulder. He said, “I bet if we look inside the boulder we can find veins of arsenic!” We were like “Whoa, that’s crazy!” And we just sort of dismissed it, like, well we’re not gonna look inside this boulder. But he pulled out a pickaxe from his backpack and there on Baker Beach, pickaxed the boulder in half to show us the vein of arsenic. It was this super rad, awesome, exciting, empowering, hilarious moment.  Almost everyone I know who is in the sciences has that same spirit inside of them.  

RK: That’s a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing with us today Marina.  

MH: No Problem!