Silver Lake resident spends her summer counting caterpillars

Photo courtesy Kelly Centolella

Some people spend their summer vacation tanning at the beach or reading away in the backyard. Middle school teacher Kelly Centollela is doing neither. Instead, she is in the Sierra Nevada this week counting caterpillars. Why? Centolella, who this fall will join the new Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy in Echo Park, is part of a two-week-long Earthwatch Expedition that is looking at how changes in climate might be affecting the relationships between animal and plant species. Previous research found that climate change lead to a growth in caterpillars. The 27-year-old Centolella explains what she and other teachers are doing on the expedition:

“Teachers on the expedition are collecting caterpillars in the field, logging all found caterpillars into the caterpillar data set, cleaning and caring for the caterpillars, and monitoring their progress in the life cycle towards becoming a butterfly or a moth.

As part of her fellowship, Centolella, who will be teaching seventh grade math this fall,  and other teachers are required to show how they will share the knowledge and experience from the caterpillar expedition back in the classroom.  “We asked Dr. Lee Dyer, the ecologist in charge of our research, what he most wanted to see in his incoming science students.  He answered that much of scientific study is mathematics – specifically calculus and statistics,” Centolella said.  “I’m excited to share this information with my students to build engagement and investment in the study of mathematics.”

Centolella said her group of teachers will soon start posting photos and updates on an expedition blog.

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