Meet Heath, EcoApachi’s Lead Scientist
Who better to lead EcoApachi then someone who has dedicated his personal and professional life to STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math? That’s exactly who we found in Heath Davis, the leader of EcoApachi. We are very excited that he is joining the Apachi J Camp staff again this summer, but this time in a new role where he can fully share his enthusiasm for the environment, knowledge, fun and a few good stories about his dog. We recently interviewed Heath about his background and vision for EcoApachi.
What’s your job during the school year?
I am a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Goethe Elementary School (CPS) in Logan Square, Chicago. For the past two years, I have taken part in the Science Leadership Initiative School Partnership at the Museum of Science & Industry. I’m currently the Science Initiative Lead at my school.
How long have you worked at Apachi Northside? What is your favorite part about camp?
This will be my second year at Apachi Northside. The best part of my job is seeing kids get excited about science that’s expressed through their smiles, laughter, hands-on engagement, “WOWs,” and acceptance to make mistakes but recover quickly with a better planned experiment.
What are you most excited about for this summer at EcoApachi?
Exploring Apachi Northside’s grounds and unearthing the science that’s blooming and taking root all around us in nature. Seeing kids getting their hands dirty as they examine their earth, while building empathy for nature and wildlife.
What will campers love about EcoApachi?
Campers will be able to learn about the natural world around them through the lens of scientists. Campers will have the chance to explore the living systems outdoors and then build their own sustainable systems. Some examples include building aquaponic systems and mini-greenhouses. Our scientist-campers will also bird watch and prototype birdhouses that respond to the environmental conditions required by their winged species. Campers will also work on projects to take home to share with families and teach others what they have learned. 🙂
Outside of a classroom, what are some of the locations where EcoApachi activities will take place?
I have big ideas, but we will need to see what the campers want to explore. I would love to take the kids down by the river to observe aquatic life and all outdoor grounds around Northside College Prep will be utilized for camper exploration. We will even offer opportunities in the pool for “water” science.
Did you love science when you were a kid? Tell us about that.
Yes, I love the outdoors and studying its mysteries. As an 8 year-old, my parents use to let me walk down to the Wildcat Creek and go creek’n. I used to spend my summer days from 7:00am to 5:00pm wading through the creek and catching long-nosed gar catfish, bluegill, bass, soft-shell turtles, snappers, hognose snakes, etc. I would bring them all up in a bucket and place them in all my aquariums for study. Then, when my tanks were full of life, I would take all my animals back down to the creek and release them back into nature. I spent my evenings categorizing the catch and recording my findings in a science journal. My mom would take me to Purdue University to the Animal Science Building and Columbian Park Zoo and let me show animal specialists the animals I caught that were not in my field guides. I was born a natural biologist, and have loved surrounding myself with animals and the great outdoors.
Who is your science hero or role model?
My dad has been a super role model my whole life. He truly nurtured my outdoor interests throughout my childhood. He taught me about plant germination and how to yield a healthy crop. He helped me build a turtle sanctuary in our backyard for endangered Eastern box turtles. He took me during the best times to go mushroom hunting because he knew the right conditions to find them. He would take me and my sisters fishing and made me an expert at baiting the line and casting. His love for nature and exploring the great outdoors rubbed off on me.
What is your favorite thing (or place) about Chicago in the summertime?
My favorite place, other then Apachi Northside, is Pratt Beach on Lake Michigan. I love running to the lake with my dog, Tyga, and watching her transform from a canine into a whale. It’s truly magical. Playing catch with her in the cool water on a hot Chicago summer day is what makes living in Chicago worthwhile.
Do you know a camper who would love to explore the outdoors, do experiments, learn more about the environment and create lasting memories? Then check out EcoApachi STEM Camp with Heath. Limited spaces are still available for 3rd-6th graders to attend the session from June 26-July 7.