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Volunteer Diaries: Brittany Hanser, The Ocean Discovery Institute

The institute aims to create learning experiences for young people who’ve been historically excluded from science due to race, income, and education
Volunteers giving a tour of the San Diego Ocean Discovery Institute
Courtesy of Rob Wellington Quigley Architects

For kids from underserved communities, a career in science may seem out of reach. Ocean Discovery Institute aims to change this by creating learning experiences for young people who’ve been historically excluded from science due to race, income, and education. Ocean Discovery Institute hosts free programs at schools in the Hoover High School cluster, at its Living Lab in City Heights, and in the community. The nonprofit also works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to inspire future scientists. NOAA staff, like research fisheries biologist Brittany Hanser, volunteer as Virtual Science Leaders and help San Diego youth unlock their potential. 

Brittany Hanser teaching students at the Ocean Discovery Institute in San Diego

What made you want to become a volunteer for the Ocean Discovery Institute?

I really believe in the vision of the Ocean Discovery Institute. All children should have the opportunity to experience the world of science and all that it has to offer. The Ocean Discovery Institute has done such a phenomenal job in reaching out to science professionals to help them expose kids that come through the Institute to science, and I want to be a part of promoting that idea.

What do your volunteer duties entail? 

Answering questions from the kids over a zoom meeting for about 20 minutes on average five or six times a year.

Is there training required? 

Just being a scientist!

What’s the time commitment? 

On average three to four hours a year.

What has been the best day volunteering so far? 

When I have really engaged classrooms with kids who have lots of questions!

What’s one of the biggest challenges? 

When I don’t really know the answer to someone’s question. Kids ask a lot of great questions, but those questions can come from all disciplines of science. 


By SDM Staff

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