Delaware Schools To Boost Environmental Studies Programs | Delaware News

By RACHEL SAWICKI, Delaware State News

DOVER, Delaware (AP) – In an effort to improve watershed education in schools, Delaware Sea Grant has received funding of approximately $ 259,000 over the next three years from the Bay Watershed Education and Training program. of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Appoquinimink School District in New Castle County, Caesar Rodney School District in Kent County, and the Sussex Montessori School, a public charter, will work with Delaware Sea Grant, the Delaware Association for Environmental Education, Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Nature Society, Stroud Water Research Center, and Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education.

“We work with districts to decide what they want to do and what interests them, and then we offer professional development activities that they can modify for use in their district or school program,” he said. said David Christopher, a marine education specialist. for the Delaware Sea Grant. “So really working with the districts to develop their plans for environmental literacy or verbal education and sort of decide… what’s locally relevant to them because local relevance is really a big issue. “

Christopher said each district or charter school will serve as a role model for the others within their county as several have expressed interest in expanding environmental literacy and education.

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To do this, ‘meaningful educational experiences on watersheds’ will be implemented, which focus on meetings for students who focus on the study of local environmental issues that can lead to informed action and engagement. civic.

Ashley Melvin, president of the Delaware Association for Environmental Education, said this type of learning usually takes place outside of classrooms, and the grant may make it easier.

“We will be creating a MWEE facilitators guide that will help educators,” she said. “Instead of learning the ins and outs of 20 different schools, we’re just going to bring in this person who is deeply committed to watershed education, arming them with tools and resources educators should know, and then they go back to their school and the classroom to train teachers.

During the first year of the grant, schools and districts will begin to develop environmental literacy plans for the second year of the grant. Part of the preparation will include environmental literacy audits, in which grant partners will seek to identify gaps in the program and the natural links to develop these plans.

Tonyea Mead, a science education associate at the Delaware Department of Education who is participating in the project, said STEM careers are the jobs of the future.

“Any kind of science is really important to start early in elementary school,” she said. “Get them to ask questions and ask themselves why things are happening because that’s where the jobs are going to be. And having scientific knowledge is very important. They are going to be the future, to make sure our world continues to function.

Delaware is a “state of the next generation,” which means it has adopted next-generation science standards, K-12 content that includes environmental education.

“A lot of times kids learn about ecosystems in a box and create models of ecosystems, but they don’t realize that ecosystems can be on the sidewalk,” Ms. Mead said. “It can be just outside of their school, and … they’re part of an ecosystem.”

She added that everyone has a unique turn around them and they need to start thinking and learning about them.

“We are going to fight for water, not for oil,” she said. “We’re starting to see this in the Midwest with water shortages, so we can’t take water for granted, and knowing our water and its flow is really important. “

Ms Melvin said that while the project starts small, it is at the heart of something much bigger.

“It has to start somewhere,” she said. “That’s what we always keep in mind when working with environmental education initiatives, is really to show how it fits into the school and into the community. (Environmental education) is really starting to take off in the region and even in our state. “

In addition, partners are developing a community of practice programs, which will aim to support environmental education by reaching out to businesses, nonprofits and other providers to see if they are interested in supporting schools in their respectful programs. of the environment.

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