Great Lakes B-WET Awards in FY18


Eastern Michigan University: Great Lakes Literacy in Action: Connecting Students to their Watersheds in Southeast Michigan through Place-Based Education
This project worked to build on the successes and lessons learned in the use of NOAA assets, experimenting with innovative content and processes, and disseminating innovations and evaluation results to the broader NOAA and Great Lakes educational communities. The Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition’s (SEMIS) Placed-Based Education (PBE) curriculum methodology is an ideal delivery method for NOAA’s MWEEs as the goals of the two efforts overlap substantially. SEMIS has set a long-term strategic goal of integrating NOAA educational assets into our organization’s activities. The project objectives of this project were to: 1) continue to focus on Great Lakes and NOAA areas of concern and the Great Lakes Literacy Principles in our teacher professional development, 2) bolster curriculum coaching resources and create new coaching protocols in the use of NOAA assets and MWEEs, 3) create a “SEMIS Speaker’s Bureau” for teachers of NOAA and other Great Lakes scientists and policy experts and better integrate these scientists and policy experts into our professional development sequence, 4) increase the sharing of professional development and other resources between the SEMIS Coalition and two other B-WET recipients—the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Inland Seas, 5) develop scaffolds for MWEE experiences for new SEMIS teachers, 6) pilot a mentoring system that would allow experienced SEMIS teachers to share their knowledge of engaging students in MWEEs with new SEMIS Coalition teachers.
Location: Southeast Michigan

Michigan State University: Promoting Healthy Watersheds and Communities by Integrating Ecosystem Science, Transportation Networks, and Stewardship
This project piloted a place-based classroom and field-investigation program for teachers and their middle and high school students that helped them better understand significant wetland ecosystems in their local watersheds, how transportation networks may impact watersheds, and stewardship activities they could engage in to help address these impacts. The project was inspired by the recent collaboration between the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) and Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) to apply a new planning framework to the multi-billion dollar I-75 corridor reconstruction in Monroe County in southeast Michigan.

The project focused on coastal and inland wetlands by examining particularly vulnerable ecosystems and the relationship of transportation corridors to key stressors (e.g., invasive species) on these ecosystems. Teachers and students learned about these wetlands in a watershed context, developed and investigated questions about impacts of transportation corridors, gathered and synthesized their data, designed and implemented stewardship actions (e.g. mapping and monitoring of invasive species or vernal pools), and shared their results with relevant audiences. They experienced ‘Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences’ while addressing a real-world, local watershed issue of immediate concern—how to minimize impacts to vulnerable wetlands from the I-75 corridor reconstruction. Their activities built local community awareness to spur lasting efforts to improve the health of wetlands and watersheds. The training also armed teachers with field-based experience, knowledge of local wetlands and field kits that can be used with future classes, thereby sustaining the program over time.
Location: Southeast Michigan

Michigan State University: Our Fisheries, Our Future
This project applied place-based stewardship education (PBSE) practices to engage teachers, students and their communities in meaningful watershed experiences (MWEEs). Connecting NOAA Great Lakes Literacy principles, our valued fisheries, and feet-wet watershed experiences, this project engaged school project teams and students in educational water studies and stewardship projects with their communities. Ten area schools and educator teams were committed as project partners; and the team supported these educators through a sustained professional development strategy supporting Great Lakes content learning, PBSE pedagogical practices, rich school-community partnerships, and in-the-water MWEEs and stewardship projects with their students. This project engaged more than 800 students and 12 teachers from 10 local schools (K-12) across eight northeast Michigan counties in meaningful watershed experiences.
Location: Northeast Michigan

Detroit Zoological Society: Great Kids Saving the Great Lakes
This project provided a community-based Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) for 20 out-of-school-time teachers and 180 6-8 grade students participating in ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) after-school programming in the Dearborn, Michigan schools. The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) worked with afterschool staff at ACCESS to create an engaging learning environment where youth use science as a lens to make decisions and solve problems. Students asked questions, collected data and conducted research in water issues that affect their families, their community and the Great Lakes. To help students increase their awareness, knowledge and action around Great Lakes Watershed issues, the DZS provided out-of-school-time educators and classroom teachers with resources and support on MWEE, Great Lakes Literacy and inquiry-based education.
Location: Dearborn, Michigan

West Michigan Environmental Action Council Education Foundation: WAKE Zone: Watershed Advocates for Kids’ Engagement
This project engaged students and teachers in Muskegon County, Michigan from 4th - 6th grades (500 students, 25 teachers). The project’s goals and objects were delivered through a variety of hands-on educational techniques including teacher training, student engagement in a community water festival, classroom interactive presentations, field research and activities, project development and implementation. Major components of the project included refining and expanding current WMEAC watershed education materials, delivering Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) through existing Teach 4 Water components, including coordinating and delivering field events and water-quality investigation activities involving students and teachers over their project period. Finally, the project also supported teacher professional development programming in place-based education efforts to expand teaching water quality, using the outdoor classroom to engage students in projects that supported real water quality data, explored emerging threats to the local ecosystems, and fostered a love for science, research, and place.
Location: Muskegon, Michigan

Grand Valley State University: Groundswell – Go Outside and Learn (G-GOAL)
This project leveraged Groundswell’s successful model to deepen the impact and enhance the watershed experience for teachers and students within our region. This project promoted meaningful watershed educational experiences through student-led exploration, research, and problem solving; strong teacher support with curriculum integration; use of local context for learning; substantial investment of instructional time; and use of NOAA assets. The project engaged 15 teachers and 700 students from 4 schools in two school districts. Teachers began by attending Groundswell’s multi-day Summer Institute. A two-day Water Festival will follow in the fall where students explored a variety of environmental stewardship topics based on the GLRI Action Plan focus areas. Teachers guided their students through the festival, giving them an opportunity to practice sharing the content knowledge gained through PD, with direct support of community experts. Upon return to their classroom, students identified the topic that most interests them. They then researched this topic, engaged in outdoor discovery activities around this topic, developed a stewardship action project that addresses this topic, and finally shared their project with the community at the end of the school year.
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan area


University of Minnesota: Watershed Stories: Learners Exploring their Place in the Ecosystem
This project included designing and facilitating an in-person, summer teacher workshop for 12 K-5 teachers at Stowe Elementary school in Duluth, MN, serving 284 students. During the workshop, teacher-participants experienced the “Earth Systems Journey” model as it relates to the Great Lakes Watershed, created their own GIS Story Maps, and received guidance in the process of facilitating student-led inquiry projects. Story maps were developed throughout the year and coupled with watershed-based inquiry projects. At the end of the academic year, teacher-participants and their students presented their findings to the community and beyond by sharing their GIS Story Maps during the Environmental Education fair held annually at the school.
Location: Duluth, Minnesota


Pennsylvania State University: STEM Hub engages students in Great Lakes research
This project provided the resources necessary to directly engage ten teachers and ~300 students from five Erie County, PA school districts in Great Lakes research efforts. It included funding for: bus assistance to the lab and field experiences (six per district), materials for field, lab and classroom activities, and support for student participation in outreach events such as the Great Lakes Awareness Day organized by PA Sea Grant and the Regional Science Consortium’s annual Research Symposium, and a stipend for cooperating teachers. Participating districts ran the gamut from rural to suburban to urban. Each of them had a core group of exemplary science educators who take pride in using engaging, novel ways to bring science alive for students who show an aptitude and interest in STEM topics.
Location: Erie, Pennsylvania


Riveredge Nature Center, Wisconsin: Testing the Waters (TTW)
This project increased the capacity to expand the existing watershed-focused environmental education program, titled Testing the Waters (TTW). This expansion allowed Riveredge to reach 1,300 students and 30 teachers at 15 schools directly as well as some 9,775 students and 325 teachers at 15 schools indirectly. The overall goal of TTW is to activate engaged and educated citizens with the ability to make scientifically informed environmental decisions while learning about and engaging with the Great Lakes Watershed. The TTW program is a joint public-private partnership between Riveredge Nature Center and schools throughout the Milwaukee River Basin that aligns with state curriculum standards. It engages the classes in hands-on water quality testing in their communities and sharing the collected data sets with a larger scientific community throughout Wisconsin.
Location: Saukville, Wisconsin (Ozaukee County)