Neighborhood Leader - Gustavo Requena Santos

“To me, nature always was a place to be curious.”

Gustavo Requena Santos. Contributed photo.

Gustavo Requena Santos, Science Educator

2021 Program Cohort

Project: “Science Yourself!” Self-directed environmental education curriculum

Gustavo Requena Santos moved to Connecticut in 2018 with a vision for spreading science literacy and connecting young people to nature. A field biologist by profession, he felt that traditional classroom-based approaches to science education were failing young people. He wanted to excite students with the sense of wonder for nature and the outdoors that he learned growing up in Brazil during visits to his grandparent’s farm.

“To me, nature always was a place to be curious,” said Requena Santos. “I see the lack of time kids were spending outside and want to bring them outside and connect them to their environment”

Requena Santos entered The Foundation’s Neighborhood Leadership Program in order to create a plan for putting his outdoor science curriculum into the hands of educators and caregivers. His online resource, “Science Yourself,” had a complete set of self-guided activities and teaching kits designed to get kids excited about observing nature and be curious about their surroundings. It was the ideal curriculum during a time of remote learning, when creative teachers were looking for alternatives to forcing their students to sit in front of computer screens. Using the plan he created in the leadership program, Santos delivered his program to several local middle and high schools and led several outdoor classes of his own.

“A lot of kids don’t have this exposure to nature and science,” said Santos. “I try to bring the strange part of nature to stimulate their questions and curiosity. I don’t want everyone to become a scientist. I would like people to develop critical thinking skills and a scientific mindset. Community gardens can be a learning space.”

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