Behind the Science: An Interview With Our Associate Director of Elementary Camps

May 15, 2024
Associate Director of Elementary Camps Shira Baskind holding a chinchilla in the Animal Discovery Zone

Shira Baskind

Associate Director of Elementary Camps

From Berkeley, CA

Shira started working at The Lawrence in 2018 as a Summer Camp Counselor and continued to return each summer. She started full-time at The Lawrence in May 2021.

Q: What do you do at The Lawrence?

A: I run the Elementary Camp programs year-round! Lots of planning goes into camp that may not be obvious! This includes logistics, hiring, marketing, purchasing, curriculum development, and much more.

“Science and math can be difficult and scary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them—or enjoy them!”

Shira on advice for her younger self

Q: What is your favorite exhibit at The Lawrence?

A: My favorite exhibit at The Lawrence is the Animal Discovery Zone! It’s incredible to observe so many different animals up close—and they’re so cute! The ADZ staff is so knowledgeable and kind that it’s easy to ask questions and learn more.

Q: Describe your path to science/education.

A: In high school, I was really pushed to pursue English in college. It was not until I took AP Environmental Science in my senior year that I discovered my love for science. That class inspired me to declare environmental science as my major during my first semester at UC Davis. After taking a wildlife conservation class, I knew that this was the right path for me. I graduated with a Wildlife Conservation Biology degree, with ornithology, organic chemistry, population statistics, and animal physiology classes. During my time interning as a teacher’s assistant, my love for educating folks of various ages and backgrounds developed in both formal and informal settings. After graduation, I was a preschool teacher before returning to The Lawrence. In this role, I greatly used the outdoors to teach the kids about themselves and the world.

Q: What age group do you love to each or work with, and why?

A Summer Camp Teen Intern interacting with a camper at The Lawrence
A Summer Camp Teen Intern interacting with a camper at The Lawrence

A: I’ve always loved working with grades 1 and 2 because they are so curious and excited to try new things. However, recently, I have grown very fond of working with teens! Our summer camp has a Teen Internship Program, where we get to work with 15 teenagers interested in STEM education. They go through a series of pre-summer workshops, where they learn about facilitation, our museum, neurodiversity, and more to prepare for camp! They are a key part of a successful summer. Each individual brings a unique energy, perspective, and teaching style that stems from who they are and how they see the world. It is always incredible to watch our interns develop their teaching skills and confidence over the course of summer.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional character, and why?

A: I have always loved Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. I always admired how strong and brave he was while still being kind, compassionate, and vulnerable. He faces challenges head-on, keeps his cool, and does all he can to protect his people.

Q: What would you say if you could give your childhood self one piece of advice?

A: I would tell my younger self that science and math can be difficult and scary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them—or enjoy them!

Q: What do you do in your free time that no one would expect?

A: Stained glass art! I create original designs and bring them to life by cutting, grinding, and soldering glass pieces together. Most of my designs are floral or nature-themed. I love creating art, especially when it involves using my hands and testing new techniques. I learn something new with every piece I create.

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