Facilitating Learning in Our Watershed (FLOW)

Facilitating Learning in Our Watershed (FLOW)

Grade Level:

Middle School

Subject:

Watershed Literacy

Duration:

Two Years/School District

Location:

Parishes in the Pontchartrain Basin

a NOAA B-WET Systemic Project

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Overview:  

FLOW facilitates systemic Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences or MWEE Implementation for an entire grade-level in underserved communities in the parishes of Pontchartrain Basin. This project provides comprehensive professional development in watershed literacy for all participating grade-level science teachers followed by ongoing support and mentoring. It develops, tests, and implements an inclusive and locally-focused MWEE watershed curriculum in collaboration with these science teachers and reaches beyond science classes to include collaboration with math, social studies, and art curriculum specialists. This project trains and enables teachers, under PC guidance, to create STEM kits. The kits provide hands-on experience to students in inquiry-driven investigations on a variety of topics ranging from water quality testing, to marine debris and microplastics, to climate education and other coastal topics such as the effects of coastal land loss on these vulnerable coastal communities. The kits become the property of the parish schools and will continue to reach students after the close of the project. FLOW utilizes rigorous, scheduled evaluations to inform and improve curriculum during both phases: development (year one) and implementation district-wide (year two).

Activities include:

  • Fieldwork in local locations including the Mississippi River, wetlands, and more
  • Utilizing science equipment such as refractometers, turbidity tubes, and stream tables
  • Collecting data on water quality, pollution, invasive species, and more
  • Creating and implementing a local watershed literacy curriculum
  • Opportunities for stewardship within their communites

Short-term outcomes:

1) Increased awareness and knowledge of environmental issues in the watershed for both teachers and students

2) Increased school board support for environmental education initiatives that focus on issues in the watershed

Intermediate outcomes:

3) Increased teacher confidence in facilitating and student confidence in participating in watershed literacy-based MWEEs

4) Increased student critical thinking related to locally relevant environmental issues

5) Increased administrative involvement in MWEE activities

Long-term outcomes:

6) Teacher and student shifts in environmental attitudes related to local issues

7) a Sustainable, MWEE-inspired curriculum that can be used by teachers and students in consecutive years

8) Increased school board support for long-term environmental education initiatives.

Background:

The newest FLOW project, FLOW: St John the Baptist Parish, is part of a larger PC strategy to facilitate the creation of  locally-focused, watershed curriculum using MWEE principles in parishes throughout the Pontchartrain Basin. The first iteration of FLOW was implemented in St. Bernard Parish and was also funded by a NOAA BWET Systemic Grant. Ten teachers and one district facilitator were trained over the course of the project. Nine series of comprehensive FLOW lessons plans were developed collaboratively during FLOW Workdays. They incorporated local field-based investigations at the Mississippi River, in St. Bernard State Park, and at a local Wetlands Observatory. The curriculum is currently being integrated and implemented with approximately 560 7th grade science students. Like FLOW: St. Bernard, FLOW: St. John the Baptist will train educators, nine at eight schools. It will also impact approximately 400 8th grade students. There will be a series of nine lesson plans based on relevant local topics including climate education and point/nonpoint source pollution.

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FLOW educators search for nurdles after a spill on the banks of the Mississippi River in Arabi, LA. (Source: PC)
FLOW educators search for nurdles after a spill on the banks of the Mississippi River in Arabi, LA. (Source: PC)
Students test the turbidity of a nearby waterway. (Source: PC)
Students test the turbidity of a nearby waterway. (Source: PC)