A key H2O project partner providing student access toTexas’ gulf bay and estuary educational opportunities is the Aquatic Education Program (AEP) at TAMU-CC’s Center for Coastal Studies. The AEP has been in existence for almost two decades and began as a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Corpus Christi Ecological Field Office and the Center for Coastal Studies.
Currently over 100 teachers and 2,000 students participate annually in on-the-bay field trips with the AEP. To date, over 12,000 participants have received science-based environmental education from the AEP.
Work now underway through H2O will add functionality to the AEP’s support of teachers and students, and extends this work by integrating new technology into instructional methods. Students will receive direct experiences on bays and estuaries and other experiential experiences at teaching locations on board an educational vessel and on an island inAransasBay.
During these outdoors activities students will be at the cutting edge of integration of mobile technology in water education. For example, students will receive a mobile device to use during experiential instruction.
While all work at this point is experimental and will be assessed for future application, mobile devices will allow students to access video, write journal entries, access interactive educational games, role-play, access water data bases, use a plant and animal identification (a key that may provide pictures of birds and the sounds they make), and view graphic watershed simulation models. Video can allow students to “experience” many different locations, from headwaters to ocean. Example virtual experiences can include students examining water quality at an oyster reef being monitoring as a class project. Students can watch and listen as students at the oyster reef test the water.
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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)