Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University is the first informal education center to be named a Texas Aquatic Science Certified Field Site.
SAN MARCOS, TEXAS – January 8, 2016 – Texas Aquatic Science Certified Field Site locations receive certification from Texas Parks and Wildlife. With the support of the Informal Science Education Association of Texas (ISEA), TPWD reached out to ISEA member organizations and beyond, offering certification to organizations with a water related mission or message.
“This certification expanded programming and increased field trip offerings that not only benefit Spring Lake, but also benefit teachers who will be able to count on a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) aligned educational package both in and out of the classroom,” Meadows Center Instructional Programs Coordinator Sonja Mlenar said.
Texas Aquatic Science is a comprehensive aquatic science curriculum that examines waterways across Texas, from headwaters to ocean for grades 6-12. All activities are TEKS-aligned, meaning they follow the state’s curriculum standards for sixth through eighth grade and high school Aquatic Science and Environmental Science courses. Activities offered specifically at Spring Lake have been aligned to TEKS for grades 1-12.
“There are many lessons that the Spring Lake Education Program has already been teaching that were not associated with a specific aquatic biology curriculum,” Project Coordinator Susan Hankins said. “The fact that some lessons can now be directly correlated to the TAS curriculum actually adds a little more validity to the lessons.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife, with the support of the Informal Science Education Association of Texas, created a certification for informal education sites that offer TAS activities. In order to become a certified field site, The Meadows Center’s educational program staff went through training and adapted activities from the TAS curriculum to be Spring Lake specific.
“Here at Spring Lake we have a unique geographical site that helps us to demonstrate TAS lessons to students of all ages in a way that makes the learning easier to understand and see,” Hankins said. “It makes learning come alive for these students.”
There are 12 hands-on activities The Meadows Center will offer from the TAS curriculum, including exploring wetlands habitats, viewing endangered species, analyzing macro-invertebrates, investigating water quality, demonstrating water runoff and infiltration, hunting for biodiversity, investigating aquifers, comparing aquatic organisms, and exploring pollution.
“A field trip to Spring Lake is not only educational, it’s also fun and has a lasting effect,” Mlenar said.
According to Mlenar, 72 percent of students surveyed months after their field trip indicated they had improved their water conservation habits and 100 percent of teachers indicated that a field trip to Spring Lake was useful back in the classroom.
“The TAS curriculum gets students engaged and excited about the physical world around them,” Nature Program Specialist Briane Willis said. “Our goal is to help informal learning sites across Texas adapt the TAS and activities to their unique site.”
The TAS curriculum and resources, including videos and teacher guides, are available for free online at www.texasaquaticscience.org .
Anyone interested in developing a Texas Aquatic Science Certified Field Site, please contact Briane Willis at BrianeWillis@txstate.edu
Anyone interested in booking a field trip at Spring Lake may visit http://bit.ly/edutours.
About The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment was named following a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation in August 2012. The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is dedicated to environmental research, stewardship, education and service. It is led by renowned conservationist Andrew Sansom.
Texas Aquatic Science includes the Texas Aquatic Science curriculum textbook, teacher guide and activities, videos, on-line lessons, and curriculum website.
Texas Aquatic Science is a comprehensive curriculum for water and aquatic science studies for middle and high school use, plus application at the university level for non science majors. The curriculum consists of a textbook in hard copy and fully on line, a massive teachers resource and activity guide that includes assessments, specially produced videos, and 220 online video lessons all fully aligned with Texas teaching standards. It’s become the top-ranked curriculum and source for information on aquatic science on the internet today.
Students and adult learners may navigate the online student portal. For teachers, the Teachers Guide is loaded with science investigations, games, models, cooperative learning activities, Internet projects, readings from the student guides, short videos, science journals, and field based assessments of water quality and environmental conditions in a variety of field trips. Most time is spent doing hands on activities from the Teacher Guide, over 700 pages of TEKS aligned, hands-on activities designed to engage all learners and all learner types. Lessons in each chapter begin with an activity to allow the teacher to assess what students know about the concepts to be studied. Lessons embed higher order thinking skills, provide depth and complexity of learning, and provide a wide variety of hands-on activities that engage students in many contexts and methods. Each lesson includes an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned by synthesizing the information and demonstrating their learning by developing creative products or performances.