In the moment when a student understands something, their eyes light up and a smile stretches across their face with the pride of accomplishment. It makes all of the lesson planning and activity preparation well worth it!”

Erika’s Story

Erika is a true California girl. Born and raised near San Francisco, she loves spending time outdoors, preferably in the water. Her affinity for nature led her directly to the field of marine biology. While in high school, she became a certified scuba diver, an activity that allows her to practice species identification.

As an aquatic biology major at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Erika began volunteering at an aquarium on campus, teaching visitors about sea life and taking care of the creatures. In this position, she designed extensive lessons for visiting school groups. She also realized how much she loved helping students explore and learn about marine ecosystems. Erika combined two of her interests—meeting people and scuba diving—when she formed a scuba club at the university. In its first year, it grew from four members to more than 150 members.

After graduation, she moved to the Bay Area to teach outreach marine science at the Marine Science Institute, located in Redwood City, Calif. The hands-on learning she was able to facilitate made every day exciting and rewarding. The following year, she returned to UCSB to earn a Masters of Education and her teaching credential.

Through the Knowles Teaching Fellows Program, Erika “hopes to gain a better understanding of what it means to teach inquiry-based science to 21st century students in a technology-driven society.