Environmental Education (82)
Soon, our water’s fate will be out of our hands -- our kids will be in charge. That’s why we’re excited to announce that over the past few months, we have educated and inspired over 875 children and their family members to love and protect San Diego’s water. By partnering with Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and League of Extraordinary Scientists, we brought Water Education For All curricula to classrooms countywide. And we keep working after the school bell rings to inspire young minds outside of class, too.
On October 6, 2015, we joined Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s 52 Weeks of Science kickoff event, offering exciting, hands-on lessons about the specific water quality issues in kids’ own San Diego County backyards, rivers and beaches. Most importantly, we let them solve these problems on their own, offering them the thrill of building solutions to real problems that affect their families. These interactive projects are key to helping kids stay hooked on protecting our water for life.
On December 3, 2015, San Diego Coastkeeper presented at another 52 Weeks of Science event at the Boys and Girls club. We discussed the importance of water conservation and how students could start conserving as soon as they got home. We then brought out the crowd favorite, our hands-on watershed model, to demonstrate how urban runoff pollution travels from land to the ocean, and played a game to discover how long San Diego’s most common types of marine debris take to decompose.
We also teamed up with the League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers to incorporate our Water Education for All lesson on watersheds into its “Making Waves” tour held at libraries and community centers across San Diego. The League captured kids’ attention with the opportunity to interact with live marine organisms native to San Diego. Then, through our Water Education For All lesson and hands-on watershed model, they learned how our pollution on land can affect the health of these animals, building strong understanding of the importance of preventing urban runoff, the largest threat to San Diego’s water quality. Kids learned that urban runoff is made of pollutants like trash, dog poop, oil, cigarette butts and, as one student correctly suggested, "even hot cheetos."
After the League witnessed our watershed curriculum and model inspiring both kids and parents to become environmental stewards, the its board of directors decided to permanently incorporate our watershed curriculum into its countywide classroom tours, which are anticipaed to reach 2,700 San Diego students in 2016. The League is even planning on building a larger mobile watershed with a clear floor and walls and gutters that lead to an artifical ocean.
You can help bring water education to even more future leaders in the coming months. Share water science with your classroom or familiy by downloading our free Water Education For All curriculum, available in both English and Spanish. We are grateful to the Port of San Diego, our education interns and our partners League of Extradordinary Scientists and Engineers and Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for making these lessons and events possible.
In Water Education For All Lesson 6: Water Conservation, Students will apply their knowledge of drought and water consumption to their everyday lives. Students will keep track of how much water they consume at home. They will ask questions like, "What ways can I conserve water in my home?" Students will be asked to identify and practice two ways of conserving water. This lesson encourage students to share their knowledge at home to include their families in a water conservation project.
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In Water Education For All Lesson 5: Animal Adaptations, students discover ways animals change over time. Students will learn that animals can change in order to live in their own changing environment and discuss how San Diego coastal habitats lead local wildlife to develop certain characteristics. To cement the lesson students will create an animal of their own. They will have to think about what adaptations are necessary for their animal to live in a San Diego aquatic ecosystem - and be encouraged to be as creative as possible to give their animal an advantage!
- Animal Adaptation Lesson
- A-Z San Diego Animal Guide Bilingual Coloring Book
- San Diego Habitats Prezi
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In Water Education For All Lesson 4: Natural Hazards and Disasters, students learn about natural hazards that result from natural processes -- and the water quality and water supply impacts. Humans cannot eliminate natural hazards, but can take steps to reduce their impact. It is important to note that severe weather doesn’t occur randomly, it occurs in specific times and places. In San Diego, we see drought due to climate change.
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In Water Education For All Lesson 3: Weather vs. Climate, students learn to distinguish between weather and climate using San Diego's weather data over time (climate) and collecting temperature over a short period of time (weather).
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In Water Education For All lesson 2: Marine Debris, students come to understand the problems caused by plastic pollution, explore solutions and become engaged as stewards of our beaches, rivers, and other water bodies. Using data from San Diego Coastkeeper beach cleanups students will learn the most common item found on our beaches, why this is a problem for our ocean, wildlife and human health, and how to prevent marine debris pollution.
We included the "How Long Does It Take to Break Down?" Beach Cleanup Activity, a short hands-on lesson that can be taught during a beach cleanup or in the classroom. Students will learn how long our trash can last in the ocean and the effects on our marine life.
We also included a fable about a Garibaldi named Gerald. Gerald Discovers Debris will help your students to practice reading and writing while learning to care for the ocean and other living creatures (nice or naughty!).
- Marine Debris Lesson
- Marine Debris Decomposition Lesson
- "How Long Does It Take To Break Down?" Beach Cleanup Activity (English)
- "How Long Does It Take To Break Down?" Beach Cleanup Activity (Spanish)
- Beach Cleanup Data Sheet (Spanish)
- Marine Debris PowerPoint
- Kids Story, "Gerald Discovers Debris"
- "Gerald Discovers Debris" Reading Comprehension Questions
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In Water Education For All Lesson 1: Watersheds and Water Quality, students will learn to test pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity using the World Water Monitoring Kits (or other available kits in their programs). These parameters will be used as a watershed case study to help students understand how our daily activities can make our watersheds healthy or polluted. They will compare San Diego Coastkeeper water quality data with their results. The lesson includes a PowerPoint with slide notes to help educators teach the lesson on their own.
Also for educators we have a list of materials and a one-page explaining how to build your own watershed model. These models may be used for future exhibits and hands-on presentations.
- Watersheds Lesson (English)
- Watersheds Lesson (Spanish)
- Watersheds and Water Quality PowerPoint
- Watersheds and Water Quality Activity Outline
- Water Quality Lesson (6-12 Grade)
- How to Make a Watershed Model
- Watershed Lesson Fair Style (for libraries or other informal settings)
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We love Explorer Elementary. After learning about pollution and water science from our interactive Project SWELL curriculum, Explorer Elementary teachers took their dedication to immersing students in environmental science concepts to a whole new level. Here's a description they wrote about their latest project.
We are third grade students at Explorer Elementary Charter School and we studied plastic pollution and its effects on our environment. We learned that it is bad to throw trash or plastic on the ground, because it can go down storm drains and into the ocean. Marine life, birds and other animals often think the plastic is food. If they eat it they can get sick or die. This disrupts the food chain.
Plastic pollution doesn’t only affect sea life and animals. It also affects people. If the ocean is polluted, you can get sick from swimming in it. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. It just gets smaller and smaller. The smallest thing can still make a gigantic impact. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an island of trash and plastic that never goes away. It just circles around and around due to ocean currents.
For our project, we wanted to educate people about plastic. First, we collected plastic from our homes and from our school. We worked in groups to choose which plastic pieces to use and laid the pieces out in the shape of different animals affected by plastic. We made multiple drafts and were critiqued by our teacher for each draft. We made posters from our photographs. Then we made notecards with our photos and a message. We sold them to raise money for San Diego Coastkeeper who helps keep our oceans clean. We hope people stop using plastic, or use reusable plastic rather than single use plastic, to help the world. If we stop using so much plastic we can stop the problem!
- Explorer Elementary Third Grade
Haley Cahill was our education intern from January to June 2015. She is majoring in Environmental Studies at the University of San Diego and believes the answer to improving many of the threats that our environment faces, starts with education. Haley helped us to bring Project SWELL into San Diego Unified School District classrooms.
“Do you talk about gross stuff?” was the first question I received as I set up my presentation for these elementary school kids. I immediately replied with a “yes” and the 5th grade boy replied with a fist pump and an enthusiastic “Yes!”
I laughed, but I was thrilled to see these kids excited about pollution. As an education intern, I attended Bird Rock Elementary’s inaugural STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Discovery Day, to try and ignite a passion for protecting and restoring our water in our next generation of leaders.
I love talking to students, it’s vital to instill in them why we need to care about our environment. Attending allowed me to see that Project SWELL, our water science education curriculum, is making a huge a difference! In each group of of kids, at least a few were already familiar with some of the material I was teaching. They would yell out an answer, or point out that they noticed pollution the last time they were at the beach.
As I looked out at all the faces I asked if anyone had ever been to a beach clean up. I was pleasantly surprised to see that over half had! These kids are already aware that their environment needs to be taken care of if they want to keep it healthy so they can continue to enjoy it as they do now. And the best part? They are excited to do it!
I can’t wait to meet other students as eager to learn as these kids were!
An important step in protecting and restoring fishable, swimmable, drinkable water is making sure we have informed and passionate leaders in the next generation to which we can hand off our mission. Since we've started environmental education outreach programs like Project SWELL, we haven't had a shortage of hope for the future of San Diego's water. We continue to be inspired by our future leaders' passion for water. This is one of our favorite stories.
At Coronado Middle School, a teacher challenged her eighth grade students to choose their own topic for a research project about what human impacts are detrimental to our environment. This class, aptly named themselves the Ocean Enthusiasts, really wanted to focus on keeping the ocean they love clean. The students came up with an abundance of topics including the impacts of plastic bags, sewage waste, the current drought and marine pollution. At the close of their research, each created a video, poster or other illustration that showed the most important lessons they learned from this project.
These students, after working on these projects, take away not only the information on how harmful our effect on the environment can be, but also the drive to do something about it. They reached out to San Diego Coastkeeper to see if we could use what they worked so hard on to educate others. This class and the teacher, Mrs. Landry, can now act as an example to other students and teachers. This is a great way to get students involved and excited about the environment and water quality. Both are intertwined and it is necessary to impose the importance of both of them to the younger generations.
Plastic Bag Enthusiast