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From the Mountain Tops to the Ocean

Photo credit:  University of Rhode Island

Beaver Dam planting. Photo credit: NOAA

Photo credit: Gulf of Maine Research Institute


Collecting samples in mud flats.  Photo credit: NOAA

 Sea worm.  Photo credit: Salem Sound.

Deploying secchi disc to detect turbidity (water clarity). Photo Credit: Salem Sound.

Building an ROV at Maritime Gloucester.  Photo credit: NOAA 

NOAA B-WET is an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, systemic learning about local watershed environments. Students and teachers (K-12) are engaged in real life experiences using science and math and other skills to study watersheds. Here is a look at this year's grant recipients.


Education Connection: Project Periphyton   ($80,000)

Contact: Abby Peklo 860-567-0863 

Project Periphyton, a program of Education Connection, the regional educational service center (RESC) of Northwestern Connecticut, was selected for a second B-WET grant. Teachers and students will study Connecticut’s Housatonic and Pomperaug watershed and their relationship to western Long Island Sound. The expansion of the previous BWET program will target underserved populations from heavily urbanized school districts. Through their investigations of periphyton populations, water quality, fish aging, stomach contents, sediment changes, environmental conditions, and climate change indicators, students will learn the connection between their local watershed (rivers in the Housatonic watershed) and Long Island Sound.


"We are very pleased to receive another BWET grant to expand  Project Periphyton. This funding offers high school students throughout the region a unique opportunity to study real science using nature as classroom. Teachers benefit by experiencing how to integrate meaningful watershed environmental education in their classrooms and science labs. They learn by doing, both alongside their colleagues and students."

Abby Peklo, Interdistrict Grants and Development Coordinator, Education Connection


Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: On-Water Ecology  ($18,189) 

Contact:Sarah Judd (Development Director) 802-475-2022

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is New England B-WET’s first Vermont grant recipient! Over the course of 2 years, this small-grant project will offer 4th-12th grade teachers professional development training during 5 On-Water Ecology workshops in 2 Vermont and 2 New York counties. Participating teachers will be trained in scientific recording and measurement methods and in approaches for conducting experiments and activities focused on the unique features of the Lake Champlain watershed. Teachers will take what they learn back to their classrooms, potentially reaching up to 400 students.  


“Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is honored to be New England B-WET’s first Vermont grant recipient. The grant will enable us to offer professional development training in our On-Water Ecology Program to Champlain Basin teachers, providing them with new methods to engage students in math, science, ecology, and technology concepts using local watersheds as their classrooms. Teachers will learn skills so they can conduct outdoor watershed experiments and data collection to complement  classroom-based curriculum.”               

 Erick Tichonuk, Executive Director, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum


Maritime Gloucester: Ocean Explorers ($80,000)

Contact: Mary K Taylor 978-281-0470

Ocean Explorers will provide 6 full-day Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEE’s) with all Cape Ann school district's 3rd-5th grades over the course of 3 program years, supported by 4 in-class learning units. Ocean Explorers MWEE units engage students in their local watershed through a series of increasingly complex field investigations Each year, students will have the opportunity to spend one day studying local coastal ecosystems aboard Maritime Gloucester’s flagship, the Ardelle, a traditionally built Pinky Schooner. NOAA staff and others will join Maritime Gloucester staff on these trips. This program will also provide professional development opportunities for 64 elementary school teachers.


"We have had great success developing Ocean Explorers in the Gloucester public schools with the collaboration of teachers, scientists, fishermen and parents, and are excited to expand the program to all of the Cape Ann communities.”

Mary Kay Taylor, Director of Education, Maritime Gloucester



Salem Sound Coastwatch: (Salem Sound 2000 Inc) School to Sea ($45,428)

Contact info: Barbara Warren  978 741-7900

Salem Sound Coastwatch proposes to implement a new program, “School to Sea,” in collaboration with the Higgins Middle School in Peabody, MA.  Over 2 years, up to 60 teachers will participate. Salem Sound and its watershed will be used as a living classroom and teacher-partners will participate in a 2-day intensive workshop on watershed science, outdoor learning, and collaboration with experts in the design of MWEEs to meet and expand the existing curriculum.  Up to 1,300 6th and 7th grade middle school students will participate. Field experiences may entail water quality monitoring, seining for estuarine and marine fishes, surveys of intertidal green crab and Asian shore crab populations, and exploration of storm water runoff in the schoolyard, local streets, and the community. Results will be shared via student-teacher blogs, Parents’ Night, videos on public access TV, poster sessions in the library, and presentations to the School Board and the Parent-Teacher Organization.  


Save The Bay: Discover Narragansett Bay ($71,800)

Contact: Bridget Kubis Prescott (Director of Education)  401-272-3540, ext. 137

Save The Bay has partnered with Providence, RI, elementary schools to provide summer professional development for up to 20 4th grade teachers through on-the-water and coastal experiences, as well as lab and classroom time.  During the school year, up to 540 students will get 2 hands-on, inquiry-based experiences with vessel and lab components: examining plankton, trawling for animals from the Bay floor, and testing water quality. On the land and in the lab, they will examine underwater animals (native as well as invasive) and collect plant and animal specimens from the rocky shore to study animal adaptation to adverse environmental conditions.



“We’re really excited about the opportunities that the BWET funding offers. It enables us to create a multi-level experience for the students and teachers of Providence for an entire school year, ultimately creating future stewards of Narragansett Bay.”

Bridget Kubis Prescott, Director of Education, Save the Bay 


 Sturgis Charter Public School: Waquoit Bay as a Natural Laboratory ($20,000)

Contacts: Dr. Peter Sampou psampou@sturgischarterschool or Ms. Cynthia Gallo Cgallo@sturgischarterschool 508 778-1782

Through this 3 year grant, Sturgis Charter Public School, an International Baccalaureate High School in Hyannis, MA, will conduct further faculty training and develop curriculum focused on the watershed and quality control.  Partnering with the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, up to 9 faculty will be trained each summer, and up to 420 students will conduct 4 field trips conducting physical measurements in the field (e.g., current speeds, water movements, salinity and temperature water masses) that will be integrated into classroom studies using computer models that describe the estuary, clarify the watershed as a system and analyze human impacts.  



“This NOAA BWET Grant will bring scientific rigor, and application of a nationally recognized data set, to our high school science curriculum in all four of our International Baccalaureate sciences. We are thrilled to more fully develop a cross-section of field laboratory experiences that will mesh with the long term and scientifically robust data set being gathered by Waquoit Bay Reserve. These labs that unify student gathered data with higher quality data coming from reserves can and will be shared with other high school science programs throughout the country.”

Dr. Peter Sampou and Ms. Cynthia Gallo 


University of Maine and Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute; The Future of Four Seasons in Maine ($78,801)

University of Maine Contacts: Sarah J. Nelson(Primary) (207) 581-3454

Bill Zoellick Education Research Director

Hannah Webber Education Research Coordinator

This 3-year project, which will build upon previous research (Acadia Learning) by partner SERC Institute, supported by an earlier NOAA B-WET grant, will engage 1,275 students and 30 high school teachers with professional scientists in research about the changing nature of the snowpack across Maine. We will emphasize the coastal climate zone where snowmelt provides clues for diadromous fish migration and changes in flood flows. Data will be used to expand the number and the geographic scope of existing monitoring programs. The creation of an ongoing field-based snowpack monitoring program will bring students into regular contact with working scientists and has the potential to continue year after year. 


“Our Maine team is thrilled to be able to deliver content about one of Maine’s signature resources: snow. Just as importantly, Acadia Learning – our project partner – delivers professional development for teachers and experiences for students about the process of science. Together, we are offering a hands-on program that engages students in developing their own questions, and following their own leads, to understand more about how the world works.”

Sarah Nelson, Project Coordinator, The Future of Four Seasons  in Maine


 University of Rhode Island, Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences ($61,710)

Contact: Lacey Schlachter Feeley 401-874-2036

The SMILE (Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences) Program Watershed Monitoring Project will engage 400 students and 40 teachers from several Rhode Island school districts in meaningful outdoor watershed experiential learning activities. SMILE is an established, after-school academic enrichment program for students in 4th - 12th, which targets underrepresented and educationally underserved student populations. Teachers will learn how to conduct  watershed habitat assessments, macroinvertebrate counts, vegetation surveys and more. Students will investigate their local watershed (years 1, 2, and 3), then the estuary and tidal habitats (years 2 and 3), and finally, the ocean and offshore waters (year 3).  


"We are excited about our NOAA B-WET grant award.  It enables SMILE to bring quality environmental education to RI students in a hands-on meaningful way.  This support will allow students to undertake high quality watershed investigations with scientific equipment, go on related field trips, explore careers, and plan and implement watershed stewardship projects in their communities.  Students will gain a sense of interconnectedness with their environment and be inspired to make positive changes."

Lacey Feeley,  University of Rhode Island, Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences