Current and Past Gulf of Mexico B-WET Projects
Since its beginning in 2008, the Gulf of Mexico B-WET Program has funded 58 awards reaching teachers and students across the five Gulf States. Abstracts of current and past Gulf B-WET projects are listed below by state.
Turn the T.I.D.E. on climate change and extreme weather
In order to take steps toward a sustainable future or Turn the T.I.D.E. on climate change and extreme weather we need to advocate for TOMORROW, INFORM the community about current social end ecological issues, DISCUSS and DEBATE our next steps, and learn from our shared EXPERIENCES (T.I.D.E). Participants in Turn the T.I.D.E. will be engaged in hands-on, student-centered learning that will increase awareness and alter attitudes and behaviors that will lead to a more sustainable future by reducing the threat of climate impacts to the Texas Coast. Artist Boat received funding to increase awareness and alter attitudes and behaviors that will lead to a more sustainable future by reducing the threat of climate impacts to the Texas Coast. Artist Boat will partner with Pasadena Independent School District (PISD) to execute this project. Fifty PISD teachers will participate in one of two professional development (PD) workshops. Each four-day workshop will focus on climate issues that most severely impact our local social and ecological systems such as ocean acidification, extreme weather, and sea level then will participate in activities to learn about sustainability and resiliency. The PD format will include a classroom portion to introduce each topic through presentations and demonstration of activities and resources for the classroom. We will then visit Moody Gardens Aquarium, the National Weather Service, the Coastal Heritage Preserve, and Port Houston for hands-on experiences to learn more about each issue. Five teachers will be selected to participate in the Student MWEE that will focus on the causes, consequences, and solutions to extreme weather for the Texas Coast. Artist Boat will engage 625 7th-grade PISD students per year with an Eco-Art Workshop, Eco-Art Adventure, Restoration Adventure, and Podcast workshop. Throughout the MWEE, students will learn how ecological systems (wetlands, prairies, dunes) increase resiliency for communities to extreme weather and will engage in stewardship through the restoration of dunes and the production of podcasts.
Bay Biodiversity: A multi-grade level project using mini-habitats and immersive watershed experiences to explore Galveston Bay biodiversity
This proposal combines school-wide Teacher Professional Development with long-term Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences to enable 3,500 1st – 5th grade elementary school students to build on their knowledge of Galveston Bay through multiple experiences and will occur over the course of 2 years. Programs will occur yearly through the implementation of: 1) Three teacher professional development workshops that will provide 25 elementary teachers with classroom training and field experiences related to the Galveston Bay watershed; teach them how to deliver TEKS-aligned environmental education lessons in the classroom; and allow for collaboration and growth through an online web forum; 2) The establishment of temporary mini-aquatic and mini-marsh habitats on campus to allow students to observe Bay organisms, gather data, and identify relationships between the habitats; 3) Differentiated and interactive classroom presentations to introduce students to the Galveston Bay watershed and biodiversity; and 4) Place-based watershed experiences at GBF’s Trinity Bay Discovery Center where each grade-level will be immersed in the Bay habitat and experience hands-on activities that focus on their specific learning objectives. All MWEEs are designed to build on each other so students gain more insight to the Galveston Bay watershed and observe its biodiversity as they continue through elementary school. The project will have continued learning for all 1st-5th grade students in each school, allowing them to interact with the Bay for multiple years to progress in knowledge and experiences.
Gulf Coast Guadalupe River Watershed Teacher and Student Environmental Education
The University of Houston – Victoria received funding to continue to support MWEEs accomplished by the 16 teachers who participated in the previous B-WET program receiving an additional 48 hours of professional development by continuing to learn new knowledge and skills on research-based and effective science instruction pedagogy delivered by the educational non-profit Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and the PIs, who will lead the watershed environmental water quality testing and analysis component. The MWEE for students will be accomplished through stewardship project at a critical storm water channel and spring break camp; that project will also involve teachers and the community. An estimated 20 high school (9-12 grade) students are expected to participate in the camp with over 2000 students experiencing the stewardship project through classroom experiences and/or in the field. This project has support from the City of Victoria, the Victoria County Groundwater Conservation District, and the Victoria Independent School District. The data collected by the teachers during the professional development will continue the baseline data record of the watershed ecosystem of the Guadalupe River and the San Antonio Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Coastal Bend Watershed Resilience Education, a NOAA Gulf of Mexico Bay-Watershed Education and Training Program
The Texas State Aquarium received funding to reach 40 Coastal Bend middle school teachers via 5 MWEE field investigations focused on coastal resilience. Field guides, maps, sampling equipment, and curricular materials will be available at each site. During the first MWEE, the teachers will design a common methodology to implement during subsequent MWEE investigations; site experts, school district, City and AECOM specialists will be on‐hand to answer questions, etc. After the MWEES, participants will meet in Open Space to reflect and select priorities for student MWEEs. 10 teachers will develop and 10 will pilot 2 student MWEEs that integrate the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan. TSA will pilot one student MWEE adapted from its 7th grade Bay Bytes fieldtrip. Edited student MWEEs will be published with the goals of improving watershed science and enhancing coastal resilience.
Science + Action=Gulf Coast Literacy
Artist Boat received funding to provide: 1) experiential and place-based learning events for 7th and 8th grade students via in-class Eco-Art Workshops and outdoor, Eco-Art Adventures via kayaks and vessels; 2) professional development training for teachers through the Coastal Waters Institute (one-week long course) that will include training and experiences in the field, training on curriculum designed across the curriculum specific to student events and the local coastal environment; and 3) a media campaign on campuses that is student-driven, in the form of low-frequency AM radio stations broadcasting weekly messages about the coastal environment and distribution posters/postcards designed by students to inform the local community about their radio station. The goal of this proposal is to broaden service of the Eco-Art Workshop and Adventure program to teachers and students from the Galveston Bay region to communities throughout the broader coastal Texas and Louisiana region, serving 16,800 7th and 8th grade students and teachers in Texas and Louisiana over a three year period.
Rio Grande to the Texas Bay Ecosystem Studies for K-12 Students and Teachers: An Interdisciplinary Gulf of Mexico B-WET Exemplary Project to build long term capacity
Hidalgo Independent School District received funding to develop capacity to institutionalize Hidalgo/Pharr school community to be aware, knowledgeable, and active in promoting stewardship of the GOM Bay/Rio Grande area environmental ecosystem. Primary Objectives: (1) Plan and implement an year-long interdisciplinary Senior project that involves student-teacher teams to develop content and strategies for integrating TAKS standards aligned environmental studies concepts and methods into STEM courses/instruction in K-12 grades, (2) Develop the curricular infrastructure (training, materials and schedule plans) for implementing the interdisciplinary strategies district wide. (3) Implement TAKS standards aligned interdisciplinary Environmental studies content/strategies in K-12 grades.
Scientists, Teachers, and Artists in the Texas Gulf Coast (START)
The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve received funding to builds on past successes and forges new partnerships. Two previously funded B-WET projects: The Artist Boat Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI) in Galveston, Texas, and the New England Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) will collaborate with Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and the START project. Specifically, Artist Boat will adapt their existing Galveston Bay Watershed teaching module to the Mission-Aransas watershed, provide training to ten 7th-8th grade teachers, and provide kayak trips to those teachers and their students. The New England TOTE training modules and evaluation will serve as models for ten 9th-12th grade teachers and their students. The START Project provides teachers from five surrounding counties within the Mission-Aransas watershed with the opportunity to work with Mission-Aransas NERR scientists and Artist Boat artists and marine biologists in both professional development and in providing meaningful watershed educational experiences for their students. Project objectives are to provide twenty 7th-12th grade teachers within the five counties surrounding the Mission-Aransas NERR with Exemplary Teacher Professional Development with long-term classroom-integrated Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for their students through field-based experiences and classroom instruction.
Elementary Explorers in the Watershed
University of Texas Marine Science (UTMSI) Institute received funding to partner with Corpus Christi Independent School District and Lawrence Hall of Science to provide training and materials to two elementary schools (grades K-5). Over a two-year period, teachers will be trained to engage their students in inquiry-based, classroom and outdoor investigations to teach students scientific skills and watershed concepts. Utilizing well-established curricula from Lawrence Hall of Science (Great Explorations in Math & Science and Roots of Reading: Seeds of Science) and teaching cross-curricular processes such as journaling and artistic observations to reinforce science concepts, this project seeks to increase the amount of inquiry-based and outdoor-based science lessons that elementary teachers use through the study of watershed ecology. Working with the Corpus Christi Independent School district, we have recruited two elementary schools (William Travis and Los Encinos Special Emphasis) with high populations of under-served, under-represented students. Each fall, teachers will participate in a 2-day professional development workshop, concentrating on inquiry-based science teaching as well as watershed ecology content. This workshop will be led by UTMSI staff and various other experts. Throughout the winter, UTMSI staff will visit both campuses to help teachers conduct hands-on, inquiry-based science lessons based on the Nueces and Aransas River watersheds. Students will conduct outdoor investigations in or near their own schoolyards, both campuses having nearby open areas, suitable for conducting investigations. In the spring, teachers will receive a 1-day professional workshop covering watershed ecology content, and then all classes will travel to a suitable, watershed-based field site with UTMSI and MANERR personnel to implement techniques that they have been studying throughout the year. This sequence will repeat in year two. 36 teachers and over 800 students will directly benefit from this grant for the two year duration. However, because the teachers are receiving intensive instruction in technique and content, students will continue to benefit from this grant long after the funding is finished. And because all of the teachers on campus will be part of the program, there will be a cohesive progression from K-5th grade in both teaching techniques and content.
Arroyo Colorado Watershed BWET Teacher Professional Development
The University of Texas – Pan-America Coastal Studies Laboratory received funding to develop an interdisciplinary elementary school teacher professional development workshop series on the Arroyo Colorado watershed - Lower Laguna Madre system with an emphasis on how human actions impact the watershed. These workshops will be sustainable through Region One, a local education service center. We will also develop associated guides for educational field-trip opportunities supporting the theme and provide classroom support for teachers. The program combines resources of two school districts, a regional education center, a NOAA Sea Grant marine education program, a watershed outreach program, a private eco-tour boat operation, and a wetland-sited nature center. It will serve a predominately Hispanic and economically disadvantaged community and will be based on meaningful watershed educational experiences fundamentals. In all, 132 teachers from twelve campuses will be trained, impacting approximately 2,640 students and their parents in the first year of the program (132 teachers x 20 students/class), 2,640 students in the second year of the program, and future students past program end, with sustained support of the workshops through the Region One Education Service Center. Primary objectives: Conduct seven two-day workshops serving 132 teachers with classroom, laboratory, and field activities that will be sustained after program end through Region One, a local education service center; Provide necessary technical support, resources, and 12 hours of continuing education to teachers; and Expose teachers to Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences, enabling them to inspire and lead young people toward thoughtful and sustainable stewardship of the natural resources of, and supported by, the Arroyo Colorado Watershed.
Watershed Wonders: Environmental Camp
The University of Houston Downtown received funding to determine the effect of training teachers in field and lab research of watersheds at the pre-college level determining program impact on teacher attitudes and behaviors, efficacy of implementation of developed curriculum by pre-college teachers, attitudes toward enrollment in STEM programs by precollege students and enrollment into UHD STEM programs. The project will target pre-college students in hands-on research and 9-12 STEM teachers across grades 10, 11, and 12 in public and charter school districts. The overarching question is to measure the effect of the Watershed Wonder program (offer meaningful watershed educational hands-on experiences for students, related professional development for teachers) in impacting attitudes and actions of participants.
The University of Texas at Brownsville received funding to employ hands-on activities to teach middle school and high school students in a historically-underserved Gulf Coast county how to monitor the ecosystem health and water quality of the area’s only freshwater wetlands (e.g. resacas). Project objectives include: Enhance student awareness and understanding of the importance of healthy resacas and estuaries, by engaging them in meaningful watershed educational experiences; Increase participants’ (both educators and students) literacy and awareness of local aquatic habitats and their connections to other components of the regional ecosystem; Enhance each local school’s and neighborhood’s sense of place and community ownership/stewardship of a nearby wetland; and Help students explore careers in environmental sciences with real-life, ongoing example projects both directly and indirectly associated to their ecosystem monitoring activities. University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) students and faculty will conduct workshops to train teachers how to collect ecosystem health indicator and water quality data. Resaca Rangers program participants will then collect water quality and habitat data from nearby resacas and connected estuaries to be shared online via an interactive website designed for dissemination of real-time data. UTB faculty and student researchers will guide teachers and students in data interpretation and in the assessment of ecosystem health of monitored resacas and estuaries. In the classroom, teachers will use the Wonders of Wetlands (WOW!) education materials from Environmental Concern to teach students material that is required by state standards and to relate these activities to their nearby resacas.
Get Hip to Habitat
The Galveston Bay Foundation received funding to provide 30 teachers with classroom training and field experiences related to Galveston Bay and the watershed and to teach them how to deliver environmental education lessons in the classroom using the Science of Galveston Bay curriculum and the Get Hip to Habitat program, which provides 1,500 students with place-based meaningful watershed educational experiences. The Get Hip to Habitat program offers a 3-part project-based learning about coastal habitats: (1) Students harvesting smooth cordgrass or coastal prairie plants from local sources, transplanting single stems to containers, and cultivating the grasses on their campus grounds. (2) Students learn about the Galveston Bay watershed and how they can become Ambassadors of the Bay via hands-on lessons from GBF’s Science of Galveston Bay curriculum and Bay Ambassador presentation delivered by GBF staff. (3) Students culminate their project by transplanting their container grasses to designated local marsh or prairie restoration sites selected by GBF. During this year-end event, students participate in several hands-on stations that focus on the purpose and functions of the respective habitats the students are working to restore. As a new, pilot component of this program, students at one school will raise red drum eggs to fingerling size in a classroom hatchery for release into the bay at the end of the school year.
Education Village Bay Watershed Education Program
Clear Creek Independent School District received funding to implement an exemplary Watershed Education and Training project that will combine two summer weeks of intensive professional development for over 155 teachers with two years of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for students. The project will feature training from the Texas Coastal Watershed Program and the Environmental Institute of Houston, and will provide Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) to over 2,800 students from the CCISD community.
Texas Coastal Bend Aquatic & Environmental Science Teacher Professional Development with VISTA Plus and Watershed Field Experiences
The University of Houston – Victoria received funding to provides Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences as for professional development for a cohort of 16 environmental and aquatic science high school teachers from mostly rural, high-need Local Education Agencies in the Coastal Bend region of Texas. Eight teachers will be recruited from Victoria Independent School District, the largest school district in the area with over 14,000 students. Eight more teachers will be recruited from smaller LEAs in the area. These teachers will receive 136 hours of professional development, including science teaching method instruction and watershed field experiences. The science instructional method will consist of a classroom instruction conducted by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Videocases for Science Teacher Analysis (ViSTA Plus) with the Student Thinking Lens (STL) and the Science Content Storyline Lens (SCSL). The science teachers will experience laboratory and fieldwork practices using the ViSTA Plus strategies for effective science teaching with watershed data analysis. Also, teachers will be professionally videotaped for video analysis to train other science teachers using the ViSTA Plus science methodology and field work on watershed science. In addition to analyzing existing data, the data collected by the teachers during the professional development will create a baseline record of the watershed ecosystem of the Guadalupe River and the San Antonio Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast. The instructional methodology and knowledge will transfer the skills and knowledge to approximately 1,000 students during the project.
STEAM Powered: Blue Carbon Art IQ
The Artist Boat received funding to foster knowledge and skills of 7th grade students and teachers on Galveston Island to discuss and visually communicate the essential importance of “blue carbon” habitats to the broader community. Students and teachers need to be empowered to learn about, understand, and share knowledge about difficult concepts (sea level rise, carbon sequestration, blue carbon, carbon cycle, ecosystem services, and climate change) on an island that faces new and old challenges to resiliency. One of largest environmental challenges faced by the scientific and global community is educating the public to be able to discuss the principles of climate science with full knowledge of concepts and vocabulary. Islands are currently experiencing the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Galveston Island students and teachers can learn about and witness trends and changes in the local ecosystem. This program will assure these students and teachers are fully prepared to discuss these topics and share their knowledge. The project will integrate Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics (STEAM) into an extensive series of Eco-Art and Blue Carbon Workshops (2) and Adventures via kayak (2), classroom mini-sessions to create “blue carbon” translational artworks that culminate in a student art exhibition. The exhibition will demonstrate knowledge and interpret perceptions about the future. This project will serve the 1,250 - 7th grade students over two years (25 classes and 625 students annually).
Louisiana Coastal Fellowship Project
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) is a Governor-appointed board housed and staffed within the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). The LEEC received funding to develop a fellowship program within Louisiana to train 20, 7th – 12th grade teachers about Louisiana’s coastal and wetland issues. Fellows will learn how to work with state agency personnel and resources to develop coastal and wetland science phenomena for the classroom, perform field experiences, and build-out phenomena into instructional sequences that support MWEEs for students. Teachers and students will be provided with rich experiences outdoors during professional development and MWEEs. During a series of four workshops, teachers will be exposed to Louisiana’s unique coastal and wetlands issues, hands-on scientific techniques, and strategies for conducting MWEEs. This will include classroom and field experiences investigating coastal land loss, marine debris and microplastics, water quality, and invasive species. Teachers will use the information gained in workshops to develop phenomena based on Next Generation Science Standards and Louisiana Students Standards for Science for their classrooms. Teachers will embed support for MWEEs into the phenomena. Finalized phenomena, resources, and embedded MWEE strategies will be published on the Louisiana Science Phenomena website. The resources on the website will serve as a foundation for instructional sequences in coastal and wetland issues for all of Louisiana’s educators.
Integrated Professional Development and Resources to Enhance Educational Goals of Two Environmental Stewardship Programs in Louisiana and Mississippi
Louisiana State University received funding to enhance teacher professional development and expand the outreach of two stewardship programs: Coastal Roots (CR) and Bayouside Classroom (BC). In the course of the three years of the proposed grant 88 teachers and 7378 students from 62 schools in these programs will be impacted. Teachers will be introduced to NOAA services and products through materials developed in the LA Sea Grant College Program. The objectives of this grant include 1) enhance professional development (PD) by strengthening educational components through science-based wetland and restoration content and educationally sound pedagogy in both CR and BC programs, 2) introduce educators involved in the professional development and outreach opportunities to NOAA services and products, 3) empower teachers and students by providing avenues for outreach opportunities for teachers and students involved in both programs to share the information from their programs with a larger community interested in ecological and environmental stewardship, 4) provide opportunities for schools in Mississippi to begin the CR Program and participate in the professional development opportunities offered by CR Program and BC Program in Louisiana, and 4) develop new resources to support and strengthen each program and purposefully integrate appropriate crossover information and materials from both programs.
Audubon Youth Volunteer Watershed Experience Project
Audubon Nature Institute received funding to enhance its Junior Keeper, AquaKids and Junior Entomologist youth volunteer programs by offering impactful, hands-on science experiences for the 75 participants. Program co-investigators are striving to develop citizen scientists who gain understanding of their local watershed and its importance to the local community through inquiry learning and relevant educational experiences within the Lower Mississippi watershed around New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans has one of the largest state watersheds in the 10,000 square mile Pontchartrain Basin, with a multitude of environmental problems. At the edge of this and other Louisiana watersheds, the state experiences 90% of the nation’s coastal wetlands loss. Teaching young children about local watershed issues and urging them to become impassioned about watershed conservation is essential for saving our wetlands. The following objectives will develop young teenagers into citizen scientists with increased watershed awareness: 1) Participation in long term projects within the local watershed; 2) Scientific investigation of the watershed; 3) Development of presentation skills; 4) Sharing of information by volunteers to the greater community; and 5) Demonstration of improved scientific knowledge. The project will improve the existing Audubon Youth Volunteer program by increasing practical, evidence-based activities available to the trainees. The trainees will engage in Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation’s Water Watch, collecting and analyzing water samples and data to measure water quality, and in Louisiana State University’s Coastal Roots program, through which they will grow, and then plant native Louisiana species along the coastline to slow coastal erosion. These new activities are an integral part of the improved instructional program because Audubon’s current youth volunteer program budget can only sustain a base level of operations. The project field trips will guide an ongoing watershed theme that will become the backbone of the year-long training program. Funding these encounters will give each student a deeper perspective into real science and local watershed conservation issues affecting them and future generations.
A Watershed Education: Water Quality Monitoring and GIS Analysis on Bayou Vermillion
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette received funding to educate 2 middle school teachers, 200 middle school
students, 4 high school teachers, and 400 high school students on the importance of water quality and the watershed processes affecting water quality along Bayou Vermilion in south Louisiana. We will accomplish this goal using two in-field water quality monitoring experiences per year coupled with in-class GIS analysis of the Bayou Vermilion watershed. The core theme of this educational experience will be how land use practices affect nutrient inputs to Bayou Vermilion and the Louisiana coastal zone. Project Objectives: To train two (2) middle school teachers and four (4) high school teachers at 3 workshops on water quality monitoring and GIS technology. To facilitate two (2) scientific field experiences sampling and analyzing water quality parameters for 200 middle school and 400 high school students. To integrate this field experience into a year-long course curriculum using GIS technology to teach students about water quality issues in their local watershed and its impact on nutrient and sediment transport to the Louisiana coastal zone.
Rx for the Coast
Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education received funding to reach 350 students from Benjamin Franklin High School, Patrick Taylor Science and Technology Academy, and Holy Cross High School through field trips to the Coastal Education and Research Facility in East Orleans Parish, located at Chef Menteur Pass in the brackish marshes of eastern Orleans Parish, where they will participate in introductory learning activities in the wetlands, and will be introduced to the technology used to collect the data necessary to analyze the health of our wetlands. UNO Coastal Education staff will make presentation in the classroom prior to each field trip. In the second phase of this project, particularly motivated students will embark on an in-depth project, coached by their subject teachers in AP environmental science, biology, geography, and physics. This project will enable high school students to use cutting-edge technology in a field setting and to learn how remote sensing applies to coastal restoration science in Louisiana. The project will culminate in the presentation of the students’ Independent Research Project at the school science fair, and in the regional and state competitions.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries received funding to expand the concepts related to the dynamics of marine debris to include not only how debris affects our marine environments, but also how other watershed factors impact them. Emphasis will be placed on Gulf State interaction and understanding among participants via the establishment of an interactive website entitled Watershed Experience Tracker (WET) to be used for data collection, strengthening EE programming. This project will provide Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) exemplary programs combining teacher professional development with long-term classroom-integrated MWEEs for their students. The project will advance the understanding of approximately 50 teachers and 320 students regarding watersheds and how the choices we all make can have a substantial impact on neighboring communities and habitats, including marine environments. Watersheds will encourage the implementation of programs that engage participants in exploratory learning processes that will result in behavior changes and it will encourage stewardship initiatives in the classroom.
Calcasieu-Cameron Environmental Explorers
McNeese State University received funding to support 16 environmental science teachers from Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes who will be trained in MWEEs at Naturelab. Naturelab is an outdoor education center in Westlake, LA, administered by McNeese State University. This 3 day, 15 hour summer professional development workshop will provide the participating teachers with content as well as the technology to return to their schools and provide standards-based, experiential learning for students in their environmental science classes. Follow up workshops will be offered to teachers. After being trained, participating teachers will teach their students how to use the available technology to periodically conduct a variety of tests at an estuary in close proximity of the school. The students will collect data, analyze it and submit it to the GLOBE website. Under the leadership of their teachers, student volunteers from participating schools will take part in a coastal restoration project by planting native coastal grasses along a strip of beach in Cameron Parish.
Wetland Warriors Environmental Education Program
ReNEW Schools received funding to implement a coordinated program of (1) meaningful watershed experiences for 250 students and (2) related professional development for 10 teachers utilizing existing curricula and data from NOAA, LUMCON, and the UNO CERF. All lessons and activities are tied to Louisiana GLEs and/or CCSS/NGSS. Professional development for teachers will consist of (1) 10 hours of instruction and exercises in water quality testing and analysis and (2) 4 hours of field orientation using GIS at LUMCON. MWEEs will consist of (1) training in water quality testing and analysis with on-going water quality monitoring and analysis, including data-sharing, (2) field orientation and monitoring using GIS, and (3) habitat restoration. Field experiences will happen in coordination with classroom instructional content. 8-12th graders will have the opportunity to apply for a summer camp at LUMCON and high school students will be introduced to both a local coastal restoration job training program and a university environmental science program.
Youth Environmental Science Stewards
The University of New Orleans Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences received funding collaborate with five established programs in Louisiana to develop and sustain a community of teachers trained in watershed science at schools in metro areas located in the Lake Pontchartrain watershed (including New Orleans and Baton Rouge) by providing professional development workshops to encourage participants to incorporate lessons about the importance of healthy watersheds and water resources into their curricula. This will provide a robust and sustainable framework and support materials on which teachers can build their program into the future. The project aims to provide professional development for at least 75 teachers (grades 4-12) via seven workshop events over two years. Although open to any teacher, many will be from schools that serve high needs students, based on the demographics of the target region. The project goals will be accomplished by providing professional development training and follow-up resources and support for teachers to ensure incorporation of watershed concepts in classroom teaching and facilitating field-based MWEEs for the students of participating teachers. An integral component of the project will be the use of Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Project protocols. The MWEEs will also include stewardship experiences for the students. These will include investigative research on specific topics related to watershed health, taking action to contribute to solving local watershed issues, and communicating the results of this work to a variety of audiences. The partners, University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana University, Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, and Louisiana Environmental Education Commission, and Louisiana Sea Grant all contribute a wealth of experience and unique perspective to the project and allow us to expand our reach to cover a larger geographic area as well as encompass considerations of both surface water and groundwater stewardship.
Camp Salmen Education Program
St. Tammany Parish Government received funding to support the Camp Salmen Education Program which addresses Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences that will help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills via hands-on activities, such as nature observation, water testing, data recording, and specimen collection. Workshops will consist of three phases: learning, application, and discussion. This project offers instructive indoor and outdoor sessions to middle school students in Louisiana, thus developing environmental literacy and promoting stewardship among youth in the Gulf of Mexico region. The Camp Salmen Education Program will consist of up to five four-hour sessions in the fall and up to five four-hour sessions for 4th and 5th grade students from Slidell Area schools. Additionally, two summer camp sessions will take place during June and July. Programming will consist of classroom lessons and outdoor observations, demonstration and data collection.
Discovering the Secrets of Pontchartrain Beach: Revealing Mysteries Using STEM Methods
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation received funding to provide MWEEs to 320 students (5th through 12th grade) on the south shore of the 630 square-mile Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans (aka Pontchartrain Beach). A variety of schools from within Orleans Parish will participate: public, private, charter, and including many young people from underserved inner-city schools. With advice from NOAA personnel from Louisiana Sea Grant during project planning, this project’s experienced educators will design and conduct volunteer training, half-day PB Discovery Sessions (12), half-day Pontchartrain Beach Stewardship Activities (4), as well as teacher trainings (2). Trained Master Naturalists will volunteer at all sessions to help manage students and provide an appropriate mentor-to-student ratio for each sub-group in up to four stations. Activities will include beach profiling using the Emery method, seining for fish, evaluating turbidity, dissolved oxygen, salinity, pH, temperature and integrating data from the nearby NOAA weather station at LPBF’s New Canal Lighthouse Museum. In addition, two types of stewardship activities are planned: marine debris collection and analysis during one of LPBF’s signature clean-up events, Spring Sweep (April), and planting the beach grass, bitter panicum, in the spring. Project evaluation plan includes pre-and post-tests. Field data collected by students will be uploaded to the GLOBE website and via the Watershed Education Tracker (WET) App.
Wetland Restoration Through Aquaponics
Calcasieu Parish School System received funding to switch an existing aquaponics system at Lake Charles Boston Academy (LCBA) from freshwater to saltwater, replace the catfish with Gulf killifish, and replace the current vegetation with coastal grasses. The project will include professional development for teachers (a summer workshop) that will allow them to understand how the aquaponics lab emulates the interdependence of animal and plant species in nature. They will learn how to perform water quality tests and interpret the results of the data that is collected. All of the following levels will be monitored to ensure that the system is operating optimally: Temperature, Salinity, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Iron (Ferrous & Ferric), Alkalinity, and Dissolved Oxygen. Throughout the training, teachers will learn how each of these quantities is affected by changes in the system and the parameters necessary to sustain life. Teachers will learn how to create miniature classroom aquaponics systems for their students to have hands-on experiential learning opportunities after they visit Naturelab and the LCBA aquaponics lab. Each of these classroom systems will consist of 3 aquaponic systems. One will exist as a control and the other two will be used to test an experimental variable. Beyond this, the LCBA aquaponics lab will be equipped with data logging sensors that will be able to share real-time data via the internet with any participating classroom in the district. Students and teachers can monitor changes in their own classroom systems and track changes in the LCBA system online. The teachers who have been trained during the summer will take their students on a field trip that will include spending time at the McNeese Naturelab located in Tuten Park where they will learn about water quality from McNeese personnel by collecting samples and analyzing their data on site. The field trip will continue to Lake Charles Boston Academy where they will visit the aquaponics lab. Students will not only learn the workings of an aquaponics system but will also learn about coastal erosion and restoration. They will come to understand the importance of coastal wetlands and marshes to Louisiana. Ultimately, selected students from each school will participate in a culminating event where the grasses grown in the aquaponics system will be planted as part of a wetlands restoration project. Stream Wetland Services has offered to assist with plant selection and acquisition in addition to helping to secure a wetland restoration location for the students to plant their grasses. All together these events will create a MWEE.
Watershed Education and Environmental Impact Program
INFINITY Science Center received funding to facilitate a teacher and student multi-disciplinary, first-hand, community environmental stewardship project centered around data collection and research about watersheds, scientific data collection, research procedures using the scientific method, and presentation to decision makers for community impact. This project will educate 15 teachers and 400 middle school and high school students about their local watershed, environmental health and how it related to population health, environmental stewardship, and to engage students in environmental advocacy. Teachers and student will participate in hands on investigative learning through MWEE’s over the course of one academic year. Teachers and students will utilize protocols and tools from NASA’s GLOBE (global learning and observation to benefit the environment) program for data collection. The project will culminate with a celebration day at INFINITY including exploration of wetlands, presentations by invited agencies, presentations by student teams, and an awards presentation.
Connecting Kids to Coast Watersheds
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve), in partnership with The University of Southern Mississippi (JL Scott Marine Education Center), received funding to establish unforgettable, meaningful, personal connections between each fourth grade student and teacher in the Moss Point, Mississippi school district and several coastal habitats found within Mississippi’s coastal watersheds and experientially reinforce the science standards that the students will be tested on in the following year. This program consists of a five-phased approach that incorporates experiential learning for both teachers and students. Based on a successful project that was piloted on a subset of fourth graders from this same school district, this project proposes to expand the field components of the original program farther up the students’ watershed in order to give them a better understanding of the watershed concept. Moss Point, a community consisting primarily of underserved and underrepresented citizens, is located at the convergence of two tidally influenced rivers, the Escatawpa River and the Pascagoula River. Although many of the students in this town have grown up viewing the water, only a few of them have ever been out on a river or to a beach (based on conversations with the pilot group). This project includes three days of Experiential Professional Teacher Development activities for up to 10 teachers/administrators. Approximately 250 fourth grade students will attend an introductory Participatory Puppet Show entitled “Watershed Harmony”, three days of Field Investigations (including a water quality sampling boat trip) in three different coastal aquatic or wetland habitats, and a closing Watershed Education Celebration presented by the fourth graders for their families and the fifth graders from their school. Finally, an online elementary curriculum packet addressing watershed issues associated with the Pascagoula River will be developed by the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and the other partners including the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and hosted on their website for use by local and regional teachers and home school instructors.
Coastal Watershed Connections: Student Impact, Stewardship and Reflections
The University of Southern Mississippi’s J.L. Scott Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Center received funding to provide students and teachers of coastal and non-coastal schools of Mississippi with experiential learning activities to emphasize connections between their local watershed and coastal habitats of the Gulf of Mexico. Formal and informal educational strategies will be utilized. The regional priorities addressed by the project are the Gulf of Mexico Alliance priorities of environmental education and water quality for healthy beaches and shellfish beds. Students and teachers will establish a sampling site within their watershed/community to perform water quality analyses for a full academic year, share data with other schools working on the project, and post data generated to the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) website. Additionally, students of each participating school will visit coastal habitats of the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, collect water quality data for comparison with local data. All data from all locations will be archived for future reference. Crucial components of the project will be photographic documentation of activities and the development and implementation of a service learning project related to the Mississippi Coastal Watershed by each participating school.
Shifting Baselines: Watershed Connections to Landscape Change
The University of Southern Mississippi’s J.L. Scott Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory received funding to reach middle school teachers in Mississippi and Alabama to implement a MWEE around the concept of shifting baselines. The work will compare landscape changes through the watershed using oral history descriptions and aerial photo documentation. Investigators will build a learning community among marine educators, classroom teachers (18), and students (900), by sustaining the teachers through three years of MWE planning and implementation to incorporate existing resources into state education standards. The proposed project includes a four-day summer field institute for teachers, a one-day field experience for students, an advisory group of regional environmental educators and scientists, and a conference in Years Two and Three to provide a congenial atmosphere in which participants continue to learn while sharing obstacles and successes.
Elementary Education for Rotten Bayou Watershed
Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS), in partnership with East Hancock Elementary School, Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s Adopt-a-Stream Program, NOAA’s National Coastal Data Development Center (NCCDC), and Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain received funding to work in the Rotten Bayou Watershed with the 150 fifth grade students, under the guidance of five teachers, at East Hancock Elementary. Programming will include a four-day, in-class workshop with the students based on curriculum developed by the GCCDS in 2012 for sixth graders at Biloxi Junior High School and will focus on how the built environment, human activity and storm-water runoff affect the health of their waterways and watershed. Students will also go on two field trips – one to collect water quality data with assistance from the MWF Adopt-a-Stream Program and another to collect geospatial data with assistance from NCCDC. Students will work with GCCDS and partnering organization to analyze, present and share their data both within the school and larger community. This project will enhance the current science curriculum at East Hancock Elementary; assist with the transition to Common Core standards by encouraging critical thinking, subject integration and information sharing; and support the efforts of the Rotten Bayou Watershed Implementation Planning Effort funded by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
Meaningful Watershed Education Experience for Resilience to Accelerated Sea Level Rise and Flooding Risk
The University of Southern Mississippi’s J.L. Scott Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory received funding to assemble and implement a MWEE for students that will engage high school Marine Biology students of the Pascagoula School District in sustained study and investigation of accelerated sea level rise and its impacts on both coastal marshes and human communities. The project will include robust classroom preparations that use diverse resources (many developed by NOAA) to remind the students of watershed concepts introduced in past classes, introduce change detection analysis to illustrate how the marshes have changed in recent decades, and introduce modeling to predict future marsh changes. Students will practice skills they learn in the classroom during a field excursion at the NOAA Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Upon their return to the classroom, students will observe documented and predicted changes to human communities, in which many of the students live. They will use work in groups that address the question, “What is the best way to make Pascagoula resilient to rising sea level?” They will present their solutions to families and neighbors during a stewardship outreach event.
Old Fort Bayou Watershed Education and Civic Engagement
Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS), in partnership with the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain (LTMCP), Jackson County School District, Jackson County staff and leadership, and NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information’s Center for Coast, Oceans and Geophysics received funding to work with 10th through 12th grade students enrolled in AP Environmental Science, Marine Science and Botany classes at St. Martin High School. There are estimated to be 200 students enrolled in these classes during the school year. St. Martin High School is located adjacent to Old Fort Bayou in the Old Fort Bayou Watershed. Programming will include in-class workshops and field experiences and introduce students to watershed dynamics including how land development and human behavior impact water quality, building on curriculum and programming previously developed by the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. Through each phase of the program students will have the opportunity to interact with a professionals in a range of fields related to environmental science, ecological restoration, planning and design. Toward the end of the school year students will be challenged to compile and present their work to Jackson County leadership and the larger community. Several students will be selected to participate in paid internships with the Jackson County Planning Department, under the guidance of GCCDS staff, to increase the County's capacity around low impact development best management practices and reducing impacts of stormwater runoff. This project will enhance the current science curriculum at St. Martin High School by encouraging critical thinking, subject integration and information sharing; facilitating engagement in the civic arena as a means of creating real-world change in policy and practice; and supporting the proposed Old Fort Bayou Watershed Implementation Planning Effort that has been identified as a priority by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
A Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience for Promote Community Resilience to Coastal Hazards (Resilience MWEE II)
The University of Southern Mississippi’s J.L. Scott Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory received funding to improve high school students’ understanding of processes that cause change in watersheds, with a focus on flooding related to seasonal tropical storms, more frequent extreme rainfall, and ongoing rising sea level. It will also cultivate awareness that communities can take action to improve coastal resilience, and that there are local jobs that call for undergraduate STEM preparation. MEC educators and three high school science teachers will develop the MWEE to include classroom sessions that explore NOAA resources (Sea Level Rise Viewer, National Storm Surge Hazard Maps, Coastal Resilience Index), a research cruise to collect data and compare natural and human coastal landscapes and a team project. Teams will explore community challenges and create posters to propose solutions. Volunteer judges from the Climate Community of Practice will score posters. Fifteen teachers in all will teach the multi-disciplinary MWEE relating to watersheds, coastal hazards and coastal resilience. Approximately 840 high school students from northern Gulf of Mexico communities will become experts in community resilience and watershed processes. 24 community resilience professionals will interact with students presenting their solutions. MWEE activities and materials will be compiled and shared digitally for use by other teachers. One paper will be submitted to publish the lesson in community resilience in a practitioner journal of environmental education. The full MWEE will be incorporated as a standalone, field-based program of the MEC.
Exploring and Mitigating Pathogen Pollution in Our Waters
Alabama's Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University received funding to build capacity within the 4-H Alabama Water Watch (AWW) Program to provide formal and informal educators, volunteers, and 4-H agents with the training, materials, and support needed to engage students (500 between the ages of 9 – 18) in coastal counties of Alabama, with Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) focused on understanding, detecting, and mitigating pathogen pollution in local waters. The project will have long-term benefits to the project region and beyond as 4-H AWW will continue to support participating educators and students, and will replicate the model throughout the state. Students who participate will be empowered to take part in watershed stewardship in their local communities and ultimately make informed and responsible decisions about the environment, particularly regarding pathogenic contamination of water resources. Project staff will implement four major objectives to achieve this goal: 1) Develop a new volume of the 4-H AWW Exploring Our Living Streams Curriculum that will utilize hands-on, experiential education activities to teach students about bacteriological pollution in water including its causes, monitoring, and pollution reduction. 2) Conduct professional development training for a select group of approximately 25 educators from coastal AL counties through which they will learn to utilize the curriculum and conduct bacteriological monitoring fieldwork. 3) Support participating educators as they implement the curriculum by providing hands-on assistance with student trainings and materials. 4) Facilitate a one-day Student Project Forum at Weeks Bay NERR where students will make presentations about their 4-H AWW Bacteriological Monitoring Projects.
Strategic Watershed Awareness and Monitoring Program (SWAMP)
Mobile Baykeeper received funding to implement an education and monitoring program designed to broaden students' understanding of watersheds, water quality, and how citizens impact the two. SWAMP promotes MWEEs by incorporating classroom educational presentations and place-based experiential monitoring to connect participants directly to the environment to encourage lifelong learning and stewardship. Mobile Baykeeper staff will educate and engage 200 Fairhope High School students enrolled in Aquascience and Life Science classes on watersheds and human impacts on watersheds. After classroom training, approximately 25 students each year will be recruited to receive training to monitor water chemistry and bacteria levels on specific, local waterways. Up to four teachers will be involved in the SWAMP program at FHS, and eight teachers will be involved in the bi-county conference with 80 students attending. Through critical thinking and problem solving exercises, students will develop potential solutions to make a difference in preserving and protecting their quality of life, the local economy, and our rich natural resources.
Oyster Reef and Saltmarsh Restoration in Coastal Alabama
Alma Bryant High School received funding to teach students about the entire life cycle of oysters and their importance in the estuarine ecosystems along the Gulf Coast, to increase the potential success of oyster restoration projects in coastal Alabama by the addition of intertidal adult breeding oysters, to teach students about the ecological value of saltmarshes along the Gulf Coast, to increase the available supply of locally acclimated marsh plants for future restoration projects. Work to be done regarding oysters: Local brood stock oysters will be spawned and the resulting larvae will be set on whole oyster shells. The spat on shell will be grown in off-bottom oyster farming gear in order to maximize survival and growth. Once the oysters reach 50mm in length, they will be transplanted along the western shoreline of the Point aux Pins peninsula in an effort to establish an intertidal oyster reef. Work to be done regarding saltmarsh plants: A saltmarsh nursery will be constructed at our on-shore oyster nursery site. The plant species to be cultured is smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora. Rhizome plugs will be harvested from the Point aux Pins marsh and transplanted to 2-inch growing pots. Lined plant beds will be constructed to contain the plant pots and water from the oyster nursery (Sandy Bay) will be intermittently flowed through the plant beds. The resulting marsh plants will be used for future saltmarsh mitigation projects in coastal Alabama.
Watershed Education using Bivalves
Dauphin Island Sea Lab received funding to use suspension feeding bivalves, water quality and habitat restoration as the tools to improve watershed education among Alabama’s teachers and students. During an annual Teacher Workshop, 18 middle school math and science teachers will work with investigators and experts in water quality, habitat restoration, marine and freshwater suspension feeding bivalves and Alabama’s aquatic habitats (Advisory Team) to develop, implement and later, evaluate and refine a MWEE for their students incorporating ocean and climate literacy principles and aligned to Alabama Course of Study Standards. Approximately 1500 students (~500 annually) will participate in MWEEs that include classroom content, laboratory activities, basic modeling and electronic journaling as well as field excursions to coastal and local watersheds that incorporate water quality measurements and a habitat restoration activity. An annual Student Summit via videoconference will strengthen students’ geographical understanding, appreciation of the interconnectedness of waters in a watershed, sense of community and pride in Alabama’s unique and rich aquatic heritage. The sustained interaction with 18 teachers over the course of the project will improve teacher understanding, confidence, laboratory competence and technological proficiency as well as project sustainability.
Our Wonderful Wetlands III
Wolf Bay Watershed Watch received funding to education students on the importance of wetland conservation and the importance of estuarine habitats. This mini-grant piloted the process of providing B-WET support for the education goals of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Students in elementary grades and middle grades are introduced to wetland components and the vital role wetlands play in the coastal habitat. Students will use digital and print resources from NOAA and EPA for classroom instruction. Students will participate in experiential learning in the classroom and in a natural wetland habitat at Graham Creek Nature Preserve in Foley, AL. For example, students will create habitat by building and placing bird houses at the preserve, learn about the flora and fauna of the wetlands by participating in a wetlands scavenger hunt, participate in water quality monitoring, touring a waste water treatment plant that utilizes a constructed wetland during the water treatment process, participate in an assessment of macroinvertebrates, and understand their role in water quality. High school component of instruction and collaboration will be a part this new program as mentors to the younger student. High school students will also participate in classroom instruction and a field trip to Dauphin Island Sea Lab to study a salt marsh habitat. Students will also display what they’ve learned in the community.
Development and Testing of Oyster Drill Control Methods in Coastal Alabama
Alma Bryant High School received funding to assist teachers and students in designing and testing the effectiveness of various oyster drill traps. We will start off by testing a trap designed for use along the upper Atlantic seaboard. We will collect a number of oyster drills and observe the trap effectiveness in a small tank. We will also make observations as to their ability to escape after having entered the trap. We will then make modifications to improve the trapping effectiveness of traps followed by field testing. We will also explore methods of oyster drill control by making observations of other animals that feed on oyster drills and their eggs. We will design, construct, and test the effectiveness of drill egg collectors. After testing the various trap designs and egg collectors, we will conduct an intensive control/eradication effort during year two of the project. We will also collect data regarding oyster drill population densities, seasonal variations, and how it relates to water quality, especially salinity. Both the Aquaculture and Marine Biology teachers and their 350+ students will actively participate in the MWEE annually. The objectives of this project are: To teach students how to investigate an issue, make observations, come up with possible solutions to the problem, and determine the effectiveness of the solution through data collection (applied research); To stimulate observation, motivate critical thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and instill confidence; To increase the potential success of oyster restoration projects in coastal Alabama and share the information with others along the northern Gulf coast; To enhance the Coastal Studies Signature Career Academy program by adding additional “hands-on” environmental activities.
Empowering Students to Take Action: Aquatic Care Team
The Santa Rosa County School District's Navarre Beach Marine Science Station (NBMSS) promotes conservation and understanding of Gulf Coast marine ecosystems by empowering students to become ocean stewards through service, experiential learning, scientific inquiry, and innovative technologies. Future water quality restorations in Santa Rosa Sound will need baseline data to compare post-implementation monitoring to measure success, however, few data are available on water quality and ecological indices in the Navarre area. To fill this gap, Aquatic Care Team students will gain proficiency with scientific methods to measure environmental variables of habitat and water quality to create a long-term dataset for this region, which will be input into the Gulf Coast Ocean Observation Systems (GCOOS) database. 50 high school students attending dual-enrolled college courses will work with investigators and water quality experts to develop, implement, evaluate, and refine their Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. During field trips to NBMSS, approximately 1500 fifth grade students will be mentored by the high school students on MWEE lessons. High school sdtudents will participate in field data collections on 24 days throughout the year at multiple sampling sites in Santa Rosa Sound and conduct basic laboratory analyses at NBMSS. By the end of the school year, high school students will summarize and communicate their findings to county commissioners and staff, and through poster presentations showcased at the UWF Science Symposium. Information gained from the sampling studies will be presented to the broader community at local outreach events using the Discovery Depot, a mobile conservation exhibit featuring hands-on displays, through public presentations at NBMSS, and through on-line resources.
Nature Coast Adventure: Connecting Grade School Students with an Undeveloped Coastline
University of Florida Nature Coast Biological Station (NCBS) and the Seahorse Key Marine Lab (SKML) received funding to implement a project to provide 5th grade students with Meaningful Watershed Experiences in the Nature Coast, Gulf of Mexico. This project will include 989 students from 12 schools from Taylor, Dixie, Gilchrist, and Levy Counties. The project aims to connect students with the Nature Coast, one of the most pristine coastal regions of the United States. This region offers a living laboratory with an expansive and unique estuarine system, tidal creeks, semi-continuous oyster reefs, the second largest seagrass meadow in North America, and salt marshes where physical and ecological dynamics are strongly influenced by the Suwannee River discharge. This project comprises of a one-day, multi-stage activities where students are expected to develop understanding of basic watershed concepts and complexity of the ecosystem using a scientific approach. Multi-stage activities include: 1) background research and definition of problems, 2) outdoor field experience to learn sampling techniques (e.g., trawling, seining), observe and collect data, 3) group discussion at SKML. Students will learn the main issues that watersheds are facing including alterations to freshwater flows, sea level rise, increases in invasive species, and how human activities influence these ecosystems. The experience will conclude with an activity where participants show how they can contribute to preserving the natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico in their community.
Sarasota Watershed Educator Learning Lab
The School Board of Sarasota County received funding to provide professional development by offering Sarasota County middle and high school teachers experiential learning opportunities. The three-day Summer Institute for 35 middle and high school science teachers will focus on the watershed, shoreline and estuary and includes field experiences in local parks and Sarasota Bay to model environmental educational pedogogy. Three follow-up sessions during the school year will offer adequate instructional time and ongoing teacher support, and participation in the Scallop Search and Seagrass Survey will allow stewardship and citizen science participation. Overall, teachers will receive 62 hours of professional training as well as stipends for some of their time. To ensure this learning is shared with students, participating teachers will use existing NOAA standards-based lesson plans, activities and materials and adapt them to the local environment so they create place-based, meaningful watershed educational experiences for on-level students. The lessons and materials will utilize other NOAA assets and make a direct connection to the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay marine ecosystems. Implementing these lessons will impact over 3,500 students annually. For broader and lasting impact, participating teachers will share their lesson plans through the district’s powerful digital Instructional Focus Guides (IFGs). IFGs are instructional guideposts which pace instruction and ensure teachers have digitally linked resources at their fingertips. Rather than prescriptive pacing maps, they instead focus on deeper explorations of topics, themes and units, and link to exemplary curricula, resources, lessons, assessments and strategies. The project is a collaboration between the school district and local organizations, including Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Around the Bend Nature Tours, Sarasota County Government, Sarasota Audubon Society, Institute of Food & Agricultural Extension Sarasota County, and Sarasota Bay Watch.
Wolf on the Watershed
Lee County Florida School District received funding to support students in working co-operatively in their academy based courses to design and fabricate changes to a donated pontoon boat enabling it to serve as a floating classroom for the exploration of the surrounding watershed and its subsequent ecosystems. Student will complete project based presentations to increase students' understanding and appreciation for the surrounding watershed. Over the three year period of this project three hundred students and five teachers will have directly participated. An additional 200 students will benefit from the project indirectly by utilizing the floating classroom during the 3rd year of the program utilizing the floating classroom as an access point to the local watershed.
Big Cypress Watershed Project: Learning in Florida’s Environment
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the Collier County School District, received funding to reach approximately 450 seventh grade students and 15 teachers by enriching their learning and instruction in life science by conducting three place-based field experiences that connect them to the watershed they live in: the Big Cypress Basin. Teachers will participate in multiple in-service training activities including a four-day curriculum integration workshop addressing pedagogy, content development, alignment with standards, subject area integration, student assessment, technology, and field safety. Students will conduct inquiry-based field labs during three field experiences at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and in or around their school. Students will summarize and communicate their findings to the public at the annual Dive Into Oceans event. The project has four main goals: 1) increased student achievement in science; 2) increased teacher knowledge of inquiry-based instruction in the field and classroom; 3) increased stewardship of the Big Cypress Watershed; and, 4) increased exposure to STEM careers for underrepresented students.
Learning in Florida’s Environment: Gulf to Bay Project
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection received funding to provide MWEEs for 1,744 students and professional development for a minimum of six (6) teachers that are directly connected to the watersheds of Florida’s most densely populated region of Florida’s Gulf Coast: Pinellas County. Through a combination of teacher professional development and a series of student field experiences at freshwater, estuarine and gulf locations the project will strengthen the vertical articulation of science strands from elementary to middle and into high school and engage students in real-world conservation efforts. The primary audiences of the project include teachers and students from Campbell Park Elementary School, Bay Point Middle School and Lakewood High School. These schools were selected by the Co-Principal Investigator, Pinellas County School Board Science Specialist Selena Kupfner, based on need, interest, location, and student feeder patterns. Teachers from each of the target schools will receive 16 days of professional development. Professional development activities will ensure that all project activities and materials align to teachers’ classroom curricula and pacing guides; orient teachers to anticipated project outputs and outcomes; provide teachers with the background technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge necessary to facilitate MWEEs; and support vertical articulation of watershed concepts and principles throughout the participating grade levels. Lakewood High School Academy of Marine Science and Technology (AMSET) students will engage in MWEEs through training from project partners to prepare them to co-facilitate field experiences for middle school students and mentor them in the development of outreach programs for elementary students. High school students will co-facilitate labs with project partners at each of the three (3) middle school field experiences each year, as well as communicate watershed concepts to elementary school students during annual outreach events. MWEEs for the Bay Point Middle School students will be modeled after the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s “Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) Program”. Following this model, students will complete three field experiences each year, one each at Sawgrass Lake Park (freshwater), Weedon Island Preserve (estuarine), and Tierra Verde Island (gulf coast barrier island). Both middle and high school students will conduct restoration and conservation activities together with Tampa Bay Watch during the third and final field experience of the year. Middle and high school students will translate lessons learned from their field experiences into an elementary school outreach event at Campbell Park Elementary School toward the end of the school year. At this student-led outreach event, middle and high school students will guide elementary school students through a MWEE using interactive displays, hands-on demonstrations, and other activities chosen by the students. The evaluation component of LIFE: Gulf to Bay is to be conducted consistently for each target audience throughout the project. Pre and post assessments will be administered to quantify learning gains from teacher professional development, high school mentorship training, middle school field experiences, and elementary outreach activities. Post-only online assessments will also be given to teachers and students at the end of each year to quantify affective (attitude, interest, motivational) changes as a result of project activities. In addition, the project will design a long-term post-impact evaluation element to be carried out by the school district. Data gathered from these assessments, as well as project activities and methodologies, will be shared at conference events each year.
Tampa Bay Coastal Watershed Inquiries, Stewardship & Education
The University of South Florida College of Marine Science received funding to provide hands-on watershed education to students and teachers to foster experiential learning and stewardship of Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Sustained Professional Development program brings 20 teachers to the bay via direct, field-based inquiries; and, watershed dynamics and education to 60 teachers’ classrooms via teacher professional development using GLOBE environmental sciences protocols. The program includes a series of environmental stewardship activities for participating schools within their region of the Southwest Florida watershed. The program will directly benefit 60 science teachers via extended professional development that includes outdoor, field inquiries within Tampa Bay’s watershed and GLOBE environmental science training; and, 3000 students in grades 5-9 via classroom and outdoor inquiries; and, 12 graduate level scientists in the classroom. A total of 3072 participants will have engaged firsthand in meaningful watershed educational experiences. Primary objectives are to provide: 1) 20 teachers in the Tampa Bay watershed with meaningful outdoor learning experiences; 2) 60 Tampa Bay teachers with extended professional development using GLOBE environmental science protocols; 3) 3000 Tampa Bay students with inquiry-based field and classroom activities that bring the dynamic watershed into the classroom; and 4) students and families with multiple opportunities to engage in environmental stewardship activities within their region of the Tampa Bay watershed.
From the Sky to the Sea: Investigating the Hydrologic Cycle in a Coastal Watershed, an Exemplary Pilot Program for K-12 Environmental Literacy
Florida A&M University received funding to combine Teacher Professional Development with long-term classroom-integrated Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for their students. The project will develop a hands-on, inquiry-based program designed to increase student understanding of the hydrologic cycle as it relates to the journey of water within a coastal watershed to the Gulf of Mexico. Emphasis will be places on the importance of water as a natural resource, its role in terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, its vulnerability to contamination as it travels through the watershed, and on the importance of the scientific method for inquiry-based investigations. The project will focus on teaching students through hands-on, field-based collection of hydrologic data and applying those skills to inquiry-based field studies. The field setting for this project is Leon and Wakulla counties in the Florida Panhandle. The first component of the project will focus on providing professional development to teachers focusing on hydrologic data collection. This component will be developed using environmental data collection protocols of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. The second component will focus on working with teachers and students in the classroom setting during the school year to develop watershed curriculum components aligned with science standards. The third component is a major focus of the project and will involve developing a two-week summer hydrology program for middle and high school students. The summer program will be designed around daily field and classroom activities that progressively build students’ knowledge and understanding of the hydrologic cycle, and awareness of how their actions can impact the watershed. The program will involve numerous field trips that collectively trace the flow of water through the watershed to the Gulf of Mexico. 12 teachers and 20 students will be reached in total over the 2 year period.
Springs Coast Watershed Project: From the Springs to the Gulf
The Citrus County School Board received funding to reach approximately 6,200 fourth grade, seventh grade, and high school students and 148 teachers by enriching their learning and instruction in life science by conducting place-based field experiences within their local Springs Coast watershed, spring systems, coastal rivers, estuaries, and the Gulf of Mexico. Ninety (90) Teachers will participate in multiple in-service training activities including a two-day curriculum integration workshop addressing pedagogy, content development, alignment with standards, subject area integration, student assessment, technology, and boating/snorkeling/field safety. Students will conduct grade-level specific, inquiry-based field labs during their annual Marine Science Station field experience within the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (4th grade), the St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve (7th grade), and the Gulf of Mexico (9th-12th grade), and in or around their school. Students will summarize and communicate their findings to the public during Science Nights at their schools and/or at the Marine Science Station's open house and Explore Your Estuary events. The project has four main goals: 1) increased student achievement in science; 2) increased teacher knowledge of inquiry-based instruction in the field and classroom; 3) increased stewardship of the Springs Coast Watershed, local spring systems, rivers, estuaries, and the Gulf of Mexico; and, 4) increased exposure to STEM careers for all students participating in the project.
Watershed Vanguard Education for Students
The West Florida Regional Planning Council received funding to host a two day teacher in-service training workshop for schoolteachers from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida. This workshop will provide the teachers with the intellectual and technological tools needed to provide their students with the information to make informed decisions in matters leading to watershed preservation. The WAVES program is designed to provide approximately 700 students and 26 science teachers with experiential learning through the use of field trips, classroom learning, and field study throughout the school year in order to provide a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the degradation of the Pensacola Bay Watershed. This will be accomplished by establishing meaningful and personal connections between the 11th grade students and faculty of Escambia and Santa Rosa County Florida public schools and the watershed in which they inhabit. This program is designed to engage students in examining the environment they are a part of and determine solutions to the complex problem of storm-water runoff. Students will take a balanced approach when determining solutions to this problem by accounting for the realistic needs of the environment balanced by the fiscal concerns caused by implementing solutions. Students will also be able to determine cost effective mitigation strategies to improve the overall health of the watershed and present information regarding the type of pollutant entering the watershed to community leaders and other interested parties. Additionally, students will learn about environment-related professions through research or by presentations from environmental professionals.
The Florida Aquarium received funding to provide hands-on, minds-on exploration of the health of Tampa Bay and Gulf of Mexico. Watershed Investigations introduces students to local watersheds, climate change and the role students can play in protecting our water resources. Students gather data to capture a snapshot of current conditions of diverse watershed habitats in their area. Then, they use critical thinking skills to predict how climate change will impact their region in five years as well as 50 years from now. 660 5th grade students from Title I schools will participate each year (1,320 underserved students total). The yearlong program includes: outreach programs for each class to prepare students and to conclude the program; two field experiences to gather data and observe ecosystems in different seasons; supplemental classroom activities that support investigation and build critical thinking; adding student data to an online database; and communicating findings and conclusions on a page on the Aquarium’s website. Participating students will demonstrate an understanding of: the workings of a watershed; features of their regional and Gulf watersheds; essential principles of Earth’s climate system; how to assess scientifically credible information about climate; how humans impact climate, and simple steps they can take to reduce their impact on the rate of climate change.
Children as Watershed Stewards
The Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida received funding to assemble a course of study to introduce young children to the wonders of their northwest Florida watershed system based on the most current earth science, climate and ocean studies and using the most appropriate technology; field test, gather feedback and revise CAWS Curriculum; and produce and disseminate (digitally when possible) the curriculum, assisted by the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, throughout the 19 counties within our watershed and throughout the Gulf of Mexico Alliance as appropriate.
Gulf of Mexico Teachers on the Estuary Workshops
The Friends of Rookery Bay received funding to increase the capacity of teachers to use Gulf of Mexico research and data in inquiry-driven, experiential instruction related to estuaries and watersheds. Education Coordinators from all Gulf of Mexico National Estuarine Research Reserves will design and develop Gulf Teachers on the Estuary workshops, engage 89 teachers, and evaluate the program. Project workshops will be presented at the Mission-Aransas, Grand Bay, Weeks Bay, Apalachicola, and Rookery Bay reserves.
Tampa Bay to Gulf: Coastal Field-based Inquiries for Teachers
The University of South Florida College of Marine Science received funding to provide Sustained Professional Development for teacher within Tampa Bay watershed. The program will bring 20 teachers to the Bay and Gulf via direct, field-based coastal research and inquiries; and, provide 60 teachers watershed monitoring training via professional development using GLOBE environmental sciences protocols. As an extension of teacher professional development, teachers can train their students in the classroom as Citizen Scientists monitoring their regions hydrology, atmosphere and soils. The program will directly benefit 60 science teachers and 3000 students in grades 5-12 via classroom and outdoor watershed monitoring and inquiries. A total of 3060 participants will have engaged in meaningful watershed educational experiences.
Preserving our Underwater Pastures (PUP): Researching human impact on local historic artificial reef structures
Florida State University received funding to support sixteen high school students, 15 years or older, and two teachers for three weeks each of two summers to gain science dive certification while studying three historical artificial reef sites in local waters. Both students and teachers will gain the knowledge and experience that allows them to enter the underwater world safely and competently and to successfully employ data gathering strategies to study the reefs for degradation by human factors as well as to catalog the kinds of fauna that inhabits the reefs. During the school year this group will meet one Saturday a month to continue to hone their research skills and to gather and interpret data. Students and teachers will utilize state-of-the-art monitoring and data gathering equipment that FSU Panama City already uses, and will analyze date to identify kinds of degradation and causes of degradation as well as rates of degradation. Once all data is gathered, formal analyses will be completed and presented to NOAA and other interested organizations with suggestions based on research that might mitigate the identified challenges to these reefs. Teachers involved in this program will return to their classrooms to develop their own MWEEs based on their experience and will be able to utilize their new network of FSU Panama City experts and the student experts with whom they have worked.
Elementary Students and Teachers Exploring the Watershed
The School Board of Pinellas County received funding to provide MWEEs to both teachers and students within Pinellas County, Florida. Promotion of MWEEs will occur during the project’s teacher professional development workshops on the Tampa Bay watershed and its connection to the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to GLOBE sampling procedures, and classroom supplies for environmental education in twenty Pinellas County elementary classrooms. The program will reach up to 360 elementary teachers and students with experiences and lessons on their region of the Tampa Bay watershed. Additionally, the Elementary Students and Teachers Exploring the Watershed program will offer hands-on, inquiry-based field trip experiences for up to 200 Pinellas County public school third-fifth grade students in five Pinellas County elementary schools with high percentages of minority and economically disadvantaged students. The primary objectives are to provide: 1) 20 Pinellas County elementary school teachers with MWEEs in the Tampa Bay watershed and Gulf of Mexico, 2) 20 Pinellas County elementary school teachers with GLOBE environmental science protocols, 3) 360 elementary students with inquiry-based classroom activities to engage students in learning about their home, the Tampa Bay watershed, 4) 180 elementary students with an inquiry-based field experience that will act as an extension of their classroom learning, and 5) opportunities for students and teachers to engage in watershed stewardship activities.
Our Tampa Bay Watershed: Spring to the Gulf
The Florida Aquarium received funding to develop and implement a hands-on watershed investigations program for fourth and fifth grade teachers and their students in Tampa Bay to investigate vital watershed questions. Our Tampa Bay Watershed: Spring to the Gulf will provide tools for teachers to provide hands-on, minds-on exploration into the health of Tampa Bay and Gulf of Mexico. Teachers from the Tampa Bay regions, primarily Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Manatee Counties, will introduce students to local watersheds, climate change and the role students can play in protecting water resources. Fifteen local 4th and 5th grade teachers from a minimum of seven Title I schools will participate in the program, or up to 330 students total. The program includes: 1) participation in an immersive Tampa Bay Summer Watershed Institute, 2) three watershed exploration field experiences throughout the school year for teachers to conduct field experiences with their students to gather data and observe ecosystems from fresh water springs out to the salty Gulf of Mexico, 3) supplemental classroom activities that support investigation and build critical thinking skills, 4) creation of stewardship action projects, 5) student presentation of stewardship action projects at their schools, and 6) a second Summer Watershed Institute based in Naples, FL (near the FL Everglades), a four-day wrap-up and synthesis that will include additional watershed experiences as well as opportunities for disseminating and communicating findings and conclusions on a page on the Aquarium’s website.