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2015 B-WET Projects

What’s in Your Watershed?

We want our next generation to know! NOAA’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program supports today’s teachers and their students (K-12) in real life environmental investigations, using science, technology, engineering, math, and other skills. B-WET is a congressionally funded, nationally coordinated, and regionally implemented environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, systemic learning about ocean literacy through local watershed exploration. While B-WET projects are very diverse, they all follow environmental education best-practices that we call Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEES).

The New England B-WET program is always competitive due to the high caliber of marine and watershed educators in our region. Congratulations are very much in order for this year's four new award recipients, which include three organizations that have never received B-WET funds before: Bridgewater State University (Stormwater Stewards), Gulf of Maine Institute (Learning to Steward the Gulf), and, Western Connecticut State University (Finding Our Way). Salem Sound 2000, Inc. leveraged lessons learned under a previous New England B-WET award to successfully compete with a new project, School to Sea in Salem. These new projects are described in detail below.

In addition to our new projects, there are six ongoing New England B-WET investigations. These multiyear projects were awarded in 2013 and are now in their third and final year:

Read about previously funded New England B-WET projects.

NEW ENGLAND B-WET 2015 NEW AWARDS 

Bridgewater State University 

Stormwater Stewards: Protecting and Restoring Fisheries through Watershed Stewardship (3-year project; $49–88k/year)

For project information, contact: Dr. Kevin Curry, 508-531-2082, kcurry@bridgew.edu

Stormwater Stewards will bring the study of the shellfish and diadromous fish of the Taunton River watershed in Massachusetts to middle and high school teachers and their students. Teachers and students from the underserved districts of Taunton and New Bedford will participate in investigations of the causes of declines in diadromous fish, such as herring and eels, that rely on the watershed for some portion of their life cycle. Faculty members and science educators from Bridgewater State University’s Watershed Access Lab will instruct six middle and high school educators in the first two years, and four new teachers in year three in stormwater impacts, water quality, local fishery resources associated, and watershed protection and restoration options. Bridgewater educators and teachers will then work together to create inquiry-based curricula, and 150 students will participate in resultant Taunton Watershed investigations each year. Twenty of the participating students will also attend a Watershed Explorers Summer Institute. New curriculum and training manuals, as well as a water quality investigation equipment lending lab, will persist beyond the length of the grant period.

“This three-year NOAA B-WET grant jumpstarts our Stormwater Stewards program, expanding our fishery and watershed resource management education to local, underserved, middle and high school teachers and students so they get hands on experience investigating stormwater impacts on diadromous fish resources in the Taunton Watershed.”  - Dr. Kevin Curry, BSU

 

Gulf of Maine Institute

Learning to Steward the Gulf (3-year project; $80k/year)

For project information, contact: Dr. John Terry, 207-571-9409, jterry4@mac.com

Credit: GOMI

Through Learning to Steward the Gulf, the Gulf of Maine Institute will partner with Massachusetts Audubon and the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation to train teachers and introduce students to an exploration of the Gulf of Maine through the field explorations enhanced by the building and deployment of ocean drifters. After deployment, satellite transmitters on ocean drifters will inform teachers and students of the drifter movements, reflecting the complex surface currents of the Gulf. These observations will help students answer questions about their watershed related to anything from marine debris drift, to predictions about sea turtle winter cold-stunning events, and to larval lobster and salmon movements. Students will learn about the role that ocean currents have in New England climate, and how they affects fisheries. Teachers will be recruited from six Massachusetts and New Hampshire school districts. Teachers will receive professional development and school-year support for student field investigations, and will help to develop an ocean drifter curriculum kit for dissemination to other school districts.


“We are delighted, through this NOAA B-WET grant, to join in partnership with our Regional NOAA Fisheries Office to launch this three-year program to support teacher professional development and student field investigations in the Gulf of Maine.” - Dr. John Terry, GOMI

 

 

Salem Sound Coastwatch (Salem Sound 2000 Inc.) 

School to Sea in Salem (3-year project; $55.5k to $71.8k/year)

 For project information, contact: Barbara Warren, 978-741-7900, Barbara.warren@salemsound.org


Credit: Salem Sound 2000, Inc.

School to Sea in Salem seeks to increase middle school educators’ and students’ knowledge of the local watersheds while they make personal connections to coastal and marine environments through scientific investigations and stewardship actions. With a student population more than 60 percent low-income and underserved, the Salem Public School District is excited to be a partner in School to Sea, which will combine teacher training and student classroom with outdoor learning experiences. Participating teachers and area teachers will be invited to attend a four-day Summer Institute in August and five Professional Development workshops during the year. Following success conducting a similar project in Peabody, Massachusetts, Salem Sound Coastwatch’s educators will work with Salem middle school teachers on watershed and ocean literacy to create a Salem-based watershed curriculum and then will co-teach seventh graders with the inquiry-driven, hands-on, placed-based curriculum that includes investigative field trips. Field and stewardship experiences for Salem students will be supported beyond the school day, through a collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Salem. A special science club program called WATCH (Water Action Team Community Helpers) will be created for 8- to 10-year-olds. Salem teens will be engaged to help lead these after-school and summer camp programs. Through these efforts, over the three year grant period, at least 60 Salem teachers will be reached, along with 15 Salem teens, 800 seventh graders, and 350 Salem Boys and Girls Club members. 


"Our School to Sea program, initially funded by NOAA B-WET, has been a resounding success. Students and teachers with very little initial knowledge or connection to the water quickly become ocean champions and stewards when given opportunities to learn and explore their watershed. We are thrilled to have been awarded another B-WET grant to bring these opportunities to Salem students and teachers.” - Barbara Warren, Salem Sound Coastwatch Director

 

 

Western Connecticut State University

Finding Our Way: An Experiential Watershed Learning Program for 
Middle School Children and Their Families
(3-year project; $64-$65k/year)

For project information contact: Dr. Theodora Pinou, 203-837-8793, pinout@wcsu.edu


Credit: WCSU

Western Connecticut State University’s (WCSU) Finding Our Way will provide project oriented experiences emphasizing the importance of clean water and the interconnectedness of watershed ecosystems. Watershed stewardship will be developed among 30 diverse Danbury seventh grade students and their families through a year-long family program that includes ten days of summer enrichment, three family science summer events, and three family Science Saturdays during the academic year. The summer program will include three day trips to designated areas for experiments. Integrated in the day will be writing, skills building, recreation, reading and data analysis, and the opportunity for small team work. Recreation components will integrate each discipline, for example, using GPS on hikes, discussing body physics during gym workouts. Overnight trips to Chincoteague Island Reservation and Wallops Island NESDIS satellite facility will inform their exploration of migratory animals and the technology available to study wildlife. Finding Our Way will also provide professional development to nine science teachers who will incorporate new data and experiments into science instruction impacting 2,160 middle school students in three years. WCSU will compare learning gains and stewardship engagement between the students who participate in year-long MWEE intervention and those who receive classroom instruction only.


“WCSU is excited to work with Danbury Public Schools to introduce children and families to the beauty of nature and the power of technology. I hope that my respect for the outdoors is infectious, and that teachers, families, and children learn to become responsible stewards of their communities." - Dr. Theodora Pinou, WCSU