H2O and the River Systems Institute recently submitted a proposal to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Gulf of Mexico Program Office for a grant under EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Partnerships Grants Program.
The proposed $305,000 project will provide experiential bay, estuary and freshwater education activities and service learning opportunities for middle school through high school students. Teachers will be provided instructional training opportunities and materials to provide field experiential instruction to students, follow-up classroom projects and lessons, integrate new mobile technology into instruction, and ideas to further extend service learning opportunities for students. The methods to be used in this project will help students better understand the world around them and inspire them to pursue careers in the sciences.
Partner-supporters are theGilbertM.GrosvenorCenterfor Geographic Education and Texas Stream Team atTexasStateand Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s (TAMU-CC) Harte Research Institute forGulfofMexico Studiesand Center for Coastal Studies. TexasStateand TAMU-CC are partners in Headwaters to Oceans, a water education project funded by the Ewing Halsell Foundation to network and enhance the effectiveness of water education programs, projects, and organizations throughout the watersheds ofSouth Texas.
This project will take place in South Texas’ watersheds, with emphasis on the Nueces and Guadalupe-Blanco watersheds, with Texas State located at the headwaters and TAMU-CC at the point where the watersheds end at the ocean. The combined watersheds encompass a project area of 32,850 square miles. This equals a land mass greater than the size of the States of South Carolina orMaine. The area comprises 42 counties, 3 of which share a border with Mexico and 5 of which border the Gulf of Mexico, where coastal environments transition to semiarid regions. It is a region with a rapidly growing Hispanic population. Here, the convergence of changing climate, energy development and the environment profoundly affect water and its use, which will in turn affect access to agriculture, socioeconomic opportunity, geographic distribution patterns of people and industry, and educational and cultural institutions in many ways.
The proposed project will use water quality sampling and monitoring as an experience-based water-education activity for youth in schools inSouth Texas. Students will sample water and test water quality in fresh and tidal waters. Student field trips will take place throughout the watershed, including in bays and estuaries. The key project partner providing access to water quality monitoring and teacher training in field sampling techniques for experiential education in the watershed is the Texas Stream Team. This is a 20-year old cooperative partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, andTexasStateUniversity. Currently over 1,400 volunteers participate in Texas Stream Team monitoring.
The project will enhance experiential learning activities through use of new mobile and online technology and youth-oriented social media to provide a more effective youth water education experience. Teachers will be trained in use of mobile devices to enhance classroom and field (water quality sampling) experiences of students. Teachers and students will be provided access to applications, websites, and other materials to provide integration of new mobile technology into water education. In addition, “Gulf Experience” field trips will integrate technology directly into field instruction. Students on project-supported field trips will be at the cutting edge of integration of mobile technology in water education.
Project by the numbers
- Up to 100 Teachers will be trained in 6 training workshops, by trainers from Texas Stream Team and the Center for Geographic Education.
- Up to 100 student field trips to local watershed water quality monitoring sites, with about 25 students each, will be supported by the proposed project.
- Up to 25 class field trips to the Gulf, with about 25 students each, will be supported by the proposed project.
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H2O (Headwaters to Ocean) is a cooperative project sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and funding partner, the Ewing Halsell Foundation which supports the project H2O. H2O is an experiential, technology-enhanced education program focused on water, from headwaters to the ocean (http://www.water-texas.org)