Campus: Cal Poly Pomona -- June 22, 2001

No Waste Of Effort
Science IMPACT Program Uses Partnerships to Improve Curriculum for Teachers, Students

While standing on a patio at Cal Poly Pomona’s John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, David Perez gazes across the way at the recently closed Spadra Landfill. As a nearby room begins to fill for a mixer hosted by his company, Valley Vista Services (VVS), a grin broadens on Perez’s face.

"It’s like old home week," insists Perez, president of VVS, a corporation involved in commercial and residential waste disposal and recycling. "Years ago when I was on a truck, I made a lot of trips to that landfill. The good news is it was run by the county sanitation district and they did the proper closure of Spadra. It’s good to see things done right."

The choice of the Lyle Center as site for the mixer wasn’t simply for the view. Perez purposely wanted to link this gathering with the university.

"We felt it would be a good place to bring the Pomona Chamber and members of the City of Industry’s chamber of commerce and industry manufacturing council. We like the idea of reintroducing them to Cal Poly Pomona," says Perez, who is also mayor of the nearby City of Industry. "They’ve done some wonderful things for us."

The relationship between the university and VVS is just part of a collaborative effort that also includes the City of Industry, all intended to improve science education.

At the heart of the joint operation is Cal Poly Pomona’s Science IMPACT (Institute for Modern Pedagogy and Creative Teaching) project. Through the efforts of project director Stefanie Saccoman, Science IMPACT has come together with VVS to utilize part of the company’s Web site as a resource. Now teachers, students and anyone else interested in learning more about things like chemistry, physics and biology – all in the context of resource recovery and recycling – can do so by going to Once there, cartoon characters like Buddy the Conservation Canine, Uncle Davey, resource recycler and defender of the environment, and Nephew Johnny assist visitors through the site’s learning center.

"Companies are in the business to make money, not give it away. So when they come forward, like VVS, and offer to help solve problems, it shows their understanding of what is needed," says Saccoman. "Their business is helping manage the public’s waste and to help with our resources. Now they’re also helping teachers teach and helping students understand that we have limited resources."

The same rings true with the City of Industry’s working relationship with Science IMPACT. A four-year grant from the city has enabled the project to publish science instructional manuals intended to help teachers expand their curriculum while also seeking to make science instruction more interesting for students.

According to Joseph Ruiz, consultant for the City of Industry and a Cal Poly Pomona alumnus, improving science education locally helps make the area more attractive to international companies interested in moving to the region.

"This valley is being transformed from agriculture to high tech. The City of Industry wants people from around the world to know they can come here, relocate and have the finest workers available to them," says Ruiz. "Working with Stefanie, I can take her ideas to the city council and they realize how important a relationship we can form with the university. Helping teachers and helping students is a good thing for everyone to accomplish."

Saccoman credits Ruiz with being the primary conduit to both the VVS and City of Industry working relationships.

"He basically pulled all these partnerships together, and he asks no more than to see people be productive," says Saccoman. "These partnerships have allowed us to find interesting ways to promote learning. They’ve given us a new avenue, a new way to reach students."

Saccoman believes that by pooling resources and connections, a more fertile learning environment can be created. This coming at a time when students, teachers and districts are searching high and low for any help they can find.

"I have to laud the private sector. They understand that, these days, schools can’t get it done on their own. Companies like VVS putting things on their Web sites, they don’t get anything financially out of it," says Saccoman. "It makes you feel good, seeing things being done right."

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