2021 Great Lakes B-WET Awards


Eastern Michigan University: Stormwater Stewards: Creating Resilient Teacher Learning Communities to Support Youth-Led Action

Eastern Michigan University will expand upon their foundation of work in place-based stewardship education focused on watershed issues to organize a compelling, professional development sequence that supports Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with a focus on urban stormwater issues.  MWEEs include nine days of in-person professional development for educators, and curriculum coaching and support.  MWEEs will use NOAA assets, and the results of robust online learning tested during the 2020-21 school year.  The project will support 15 teachers, their students, and their community partners in developing and implementing model MWEEs linked to stormwater runoff and watershed health, with a focus on issues of environmental justice.  The project will develop and disseminate up to five sketches of teacher learning that share the story of teachers' efforts to craft, through MWEEs, effective education strategies for the urban context during the COVID-19/Post-COVID-19 period.  For more information about this organization's Southeast Michigan Stewardship Initiative, go to: https://semiscoalition.org/meaningful-watershed-education/

Grand Valley Metropolitan Council: Blue Crew: Student Stewardship of the Lower Grand River Watershed

Grand Valley Metropolitan Council will engage students in collecting water quality data and designing stewardship action projects to improve the Lower Grand River Watershed, while developing attitudes of lifelong stewardship and civic engagement. Students will work with professionals to pilot and refine robust data collection protocols that will allow them to calculate a water quality index (WQI) and will improve the quality of student data to make it more usable to watershed managers. Student data will be used alongside data in the Lower Grand River Watershed Management Plan in a student-led process to identify issues and implement solutions to local water quality problems. Water quality data will be available to the public through the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW) Data Repository, and students will share their work through at least one community showcase. Throughout the project, teachers will be provided with sustained, in-depth professional development to help them guide their students through Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs).  For more information about this organization's environmental program: Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds, go to: https://www.gvmc.org/lgrow

Lake Superior State University: Increasing freshwater and data literacy among high school students through real-time stream monitoring with MiWaterNet

Lake Superior State University will connect >125 students (citizen scientists) at five high schools in the Eastern Upper Peninsula (MI) with their Great Lakes watershed—their place—using Lake Superior State University's Center for Freshwater Research and Education MiWaterNet initiative. MiWaterNet is a regional network of affordable water sensors that provides real-time data on water quality and hydrology across streams in northern Michigan. By leveraging MiWaterNet, students will use sensor technology to critically evaluate and interpret data, identify problems, and develop environmental solutions that lead to connections to their community and stewardship of Great Lakes resources. Specifically, immersive teacher and student experiences are designed to build technical, scientific, and peer support for high school teachers in the eastern upper peninsula of Michigan, enhance students' data, freshwater, and climate understanding in the context of their Great Lakes watershed, and connect students with their local stakeholders to engage in projects relevant to their communities. For more information about this organization's Center for Freshwater Research and Education, go to: https://www.lssu.edu/cfre/miwaternet/

Michigan Technological University: Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative – Expanding Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for Rural Schools (LSSI-ER)

Michigan Technological University will engage approximately 30 K-12 teachers and 1,000 students from five rural counties in Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula in a variety of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences that support differentiation by school through unique student-driven stewardship projects. This project leverages a variety of existing resources and programs to support effective, place-based, outdoor learning opportunities for students and teachers. In particular, LSSI-ER will utilize a water quality unit developed by the Michigan Initiative for Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) during the teacher Summer Institute to model NGSS-aligned watershed-related instruction within the context of local water quality issues including mining byproducts that impact local water quality. LSSI-ER will also leverage existing stewardship projects that have been successfully implemented by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI), Earth Force Curriculum, and existing NOAA data sets to support watershed instruction and stewardship projects for all participant teachers, regardless of grade level. For more information about this organization's Lake Superior stewardship initiative go to: http://www.lakesuperiorstewardship.org/news-view.php?target=197

New York

St. John Fisher College: Our Lakes, Streams, and Rivers: Online and Field-based Hybrid Teacher Training

St. John Fisher College will build capacity for Our Lakes, Streams, and Rivers on lessons learned from a previous project supported by the Great Lakes B-WET program.  The project will combine a hybrid virtual and field-based teacher training course, supported classroom activities, and a year-end celebration of student work. St. John Fisher College's program in experiential education and stewardship in the Lake Ontario watershed will leverage the current program and the College's resources to create a website-based Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) “201” course focusing on Great Lakes issues and also more specifically the Rochester and Finger Lakes region of New York. Partner organizations will integrate their offerings into the MWEE framework to provide the outdoor field-based components of the MWEE training, enabling teachers to use a greater variety of local opportunities and sites with their students. Together, the hybrid format will decrease the barriers teachers face when seeking training to engage their students in meaningful environmental education. The project will incentivize teachers through classroom support funds and stipends and offer them regular contacts and mentorship. Student work will be disseminated through digital posters and digital storytelling and promoted through an end to the school year celebration.  For more information about this organization's experiential education and stewardship in the Lake Ontario watershed go to: https://www.sjfc.edu/centers/center-for-sustainability/sustainable-community/watershed/

Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District: Great Lakes Water Sources: A Multifaceted Meaningful Watershed Education Experience for Genesee County Students

Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District will deliver a multifaceted watershed education series following the Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE) model in collaboration with Genesee County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry, and New York Sea Grant.  The combined team of project partners will deliver this education series, including a new MWEE-based environmental education program to 6th grade students and teachers throughout Genesee County during the 2021-2022 academic year. The second aspect of the education series will be to use the existing “Envirothon” program, which teaches aquatic ecology, soils, wildlife, forestry, and a current issue topic, to 9-12 grade students, as part of the MWEEs, making connections across grade levels and building a community of practice for teachers in watershed education, and support building school-community partnerships in Genesee County.


University of Toledo: Maumee River Floating Laboratory on Watershed Science (FLOWS)

University of Toledo will deliver Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with an urban focus in order to foster in teachers and students an awareness and sense of connection with and responsibility for the waters of the Great Lakes. In addition to classroom and stewardship components, a central feature of the project is to transform the large Maumee River excursion vessel, the Sandpiper, into a floating laboratory for science and art classes by equipping it with a science package consisting of sensors, sampling gear, and water testing equipment. Data available from NOAA buoys in nearby Lake Erie and USGS river gauge stations will allow students to engage with live river and lake data throughout the academic year.  Professional development includes 30 hours of teacher training and support, including field experiences. Students will reflect on and present about their MWEE-grounded projects through both science-based presentations and artistic media. For more information about this organization's Lake Erie Center for interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach facility dedicated to solving environmental problems in the Great Lakes go to: https://www.utoledo.edu/nsm/lec/


Regional Science Consortium: The Great Lakes W.I.S.E. Program – Developing environmental leaders through “Watershed Immersive Stewardship Experiences”

Regional Science Consortium (RSC) will provide training and professional development to teachers on the topics aligning with the Great Lakes Literacy Principles. The RSC will provide hands-on, immersive Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) on Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park and the RSC laboratories. MWEEs will include students setting sail on the Lettie G. Howard schooner in Lake Erie to provide a sense of place about the history of Port Erie and the history of human interaction with the Great Lakes.  It will also include opportunities such as analyzing water and macroinvertebrate samples from their watershed, participating in wetland restoration and harmful algal bloom prevention efforts.  Students will experience through first-hand observation the impacts of erosion, weather, and climate along the Lake Erie shoreline in their community, they will develop an understanding the water cycle, how to monitor water levels, and practice identifying the flora and fauna (native and invasive species) near where they live.  Each student group will steer their learning path depending upon their interests and this will help guide stewardship projects. The RSC will work with teachers through professional development and other supporting practices to develop their own schoolyard MWEEs and successful stewardship action projects.  Final project presentations will be featured on the local PBS television channel.  For more information about this organization's research, education, and collaborations go to: https://www.regsciconsort.com/


Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the University of Wisconsin - Madison Earth Partnership Indigenous Arts and Sciences: Nibi gaa-gikinoo'amaage, Nibi gaa-bimaaji'iwemagak (Water will Teach, Water Will Give Life)

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will involve Red Cliff tribal community leaders, Elders, and scientists, NOAA Sea Grant personnel, and UW-Madison staff in collaboration with Bayfield/Washburn teachers to engage Native youth in a sustained year-round, for-credit field-based course on the Red Cliff reservation including meaningful watershed investigations, monitoring, stewardship, and relevant cultural education. Students will identify and implement water stewardship projects, share data and experiences with peers in multiple classrooms, in the community, and with Native students from five Native Nations in Wisconsin. Teachers will participate in professional development to support these experiences and make connections with local and global issues using student collected and NOAA data. Teacher mentors will support colleagues integrating culturally-sustaining, place-based curricula, and complementary watershed and stewardship experiences on and near the school grounds. Community members, youth, and teachers will participate in seasonal events to strengthen school-community relationships.  

Wisconsin Sea Grant: Coastal Engineering Education: People, Place and Practice

Wisconsin Sea Grant will engage middle-school students in the Racine Unified School District in a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience centered around coastal engineering and the natural coastal processes that have shaped and continue to shape their city and its Lake Michigan waterfront. With Lake Michigan currently in a period of record-high water levels, the economic, cultural, and recreational assets of this Wisconsin city south of Milwaukee are under intense stress. Now is an opportune time for students in Racine to investigate the science and engineering behind these coastal changes and engage with the strategies that are currently being implemented to build resilience within their community. Through this experience, Wisconsin Sea Grant aims to empower a group of students to recognize the value of the Great Lakes, their ownership of and public access to these resources, their role in protecting the watershed, and the variety of career opportunities related to addressing these issues. This place-based approach to watershed learning is unique and innovative in its use of coastal engineering as its educational frame, its engaged community partnerships, and the rich cultural, socioeconomic, and racial diversity in the community.

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation: For the Birds--and People Too: Understanding Interdependence of Living Things in the Lake Michigan Watershed

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation will provide professional development for 28 classroom teachers and four community educators of Lincoln Avenue Elementary School (LAS) in Milwaukee. Educators will develop an understanding and appreciation for the elements of MWEEs through an immersive summer institute, including field experiences, and will deepen their understanding of watershed and climate sciences, and the interdependence of living things. Bird studies will be an area of research within the MWEEs that educators will create for implementation with students. During the school year, educators will gain skills and confidence to facilitate MWEEs in their classrooms alongside FIELD Edventures coaches. Five hundred elementary students are expected to participate in student MWEEs that will include time outdoors on school grounds, along the Kinnickinnic River, and on the shores of Lake Michigan as they engage in stewardship action projects that demonstrate their understanding of the interdependence of living things in the Lake Michigan Watershed. For more information about this organization's environmental education initiatives go to: https://wiwf.org/green-school-network/