Integrating BES Science Into Partners’ Education Programs: New Initiatives for 2003/2004 School Year
Janie Gordon and Alan Berkowitz
A major goal of the BES Education program is to infuse BES data and pedagogy into community-based programs. Two current initiatives provide an ideal opportunity to meet this goal. KidsGrow, a signature after-school program of the Parks and People Foundation, serves 4th & 5th graders attending Franklin Square Elementary School in West Baltimore’s Watershed 263. BES currently is developing and piloting a new inquiry based curriculum for this program. Children and their teachers will help create the first joint BES/PPF Neighborhood Ecology Center at their school, while they develop a practical understanding of the ecology and geography of their schoolyard and neighborhood. Center activities will include short- and long-term studies, teaching and stewardship. BES scientists will be asked to play a key role in educating and inspiring the children. The second initiative, The School Yard Project, is a new collaboration between Parks and People, Living Classrooms and BES to support at least 5 schools, 4 in Watershed 263, in piloting and maintaining schoolyard restoration projects and in-class education on concepts and practices related to the potential contribution of the schoolyard to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. BES will assess impacts of the education component on teachers and children, and help evaluate the environmental impact of the actual restoration projects. Planning and supporting professional development for teachers will also be a BES contribution. These efforts will create model programs that can be adapted for a number of different formal and informal education settings.