Middle School Science
Cade “Mr. G” Grunst teaches 8th grade Earth Science in the Country Day middle school. Earth Science is a broad umbrella covering topics like astronomy, weather, continents, erosion, dinosaurs, the deep ocean, and of course the planet’s ongoing Climate Crisis. The goal of his class is to re-awaken the sense of wonder we experience as young children. He wants students to reexamine the world around them, to see with fresh eyes and understand the joys of clouds and mountains and the moon.
Cade teaches two electives: Robotics and Maker Lab. Maker Lab is an introduction to engineering, where students compete to build the fastest car, the longest bridge, the heaviest cargo ship, etc. Students seeking a more technical experience can engage with laser-cutting, 3D modeling and printing, or work with hobby electronics using the Arduino platform. Cade’s Robotics class is based on the powerful LEGO Mindstorms system. Students build and program mobile robots of their own design, constantly evaluating and innovating to complete a series of challenges. The Robotics elective is also a feeder for the middle school’s competitive after-school Robotics team, which Cade also coaches. Go Techno Cavs!
Cade attended the University of California, Davis, graduating with honors and a degree in Animal Biotechnology in 2009. Cade enjoyed the diverse offerings of a huge university, and during his four years took classes in rock climbing, archery, SCUBA certification, raptor management, Ultimate Frisbee, mushroom cultivation, screen printing, didgeridoo, and 3D animation. Cade also found time in there somewhere to pursue an independent undergraduate research fellowship, where he moved umpteen thousand fungal spores around petri dishes until he had determined that the palmitoyltransferase protein in brewer’s yeast is not involved in telomeric anchoring during meiosis. Probably.
After graduation Cade took a research position with the UCD Center for Neuroscience. While he found the implications of his work on neural connectivity fascinating, the actual day-to-day mechanics of being a lab monkey were ultimately not the best fit. Cade left after two years to pursue education. Cade’s first experiences with classroom teaching were through the Breakthrough Collaborative, and he will forever be grateful to Adolfo Mercado for giving him his start. Cade started substitute teaching in several schools in the Sacramento area, eventually landing a 1-year contract at Country Day that has turned into quite a bit more than expected.
In July, Cade enjoys exploration and wildlife photography. A recent trip took him to Alaska, where he spent three weeks backpacking among juvenile brown bears and a breaching humpback whale. Previous trips have led him to bighorn sheep in the canyons of Utah, mountain goats high above Montana, and pika tucked away among glacial deposits in the Canadian Rockies. Cade loves studying interactions between Earth’s physical and biological systems. Teaching Earth Science has led to a deeper understanding of how geology, meteorology, and ecology intertwine, and Cade brings each adventure back to the classroom. When speaking about convection currents in weather systems, he tells stories of cool night air descending in Canyonlands National Park. Glaciology comes with photographs of Yosemite and the Rockies. Mineralogy is addressed through undersea lava tubes off Kauai.
One of Cade’s biggest regrets is that he was unable to visit the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef before it was devastated by unseasonal cyclones and coral bleaching events. He hopes that through education, he can help enact the societal change necessary to protect our beautiful space pebble. Cade draws inspiration from Carl Sagan, quoting the imperative that ends his famous Pale Blue Dot speech: “…to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish [this] pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”