August 30 – Forum Shows Need to Connect Common Core Standards, Environmental Science

Speakers at yesterday’s Signs of the Tide shared insights into new teaching standards and creative ways to use science education to meet their goals

SAN DIEGO, August 30, 2013 – Yesterday, a lineup of environmental and educational experts asked, how do schools teach children about the environment when new statewide standards emphasize reading, writing and math? San Diego Coastkeeper, an organization that protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters, organized the free event, Signs of the Tide: Can We Overcome the Environmental Education Curriculum Gap, to help educators, parents and school officials find ways to use environmental science to meet the standards.

California’s new Common Core Standards tell teachers what their students need to learn in each grade level, and almost exclusively address math and English language arts skills. According to Coastkeeper, the standards lack a clear connection to environmental education and could neglect to teach children the practical knowledge needed to prepare them to address environmental challenges and thrive in the high-tech, clean-teach workforce in San Diego County.

Coastkepeer’s Executive Director Megan Baehrens says she sees the new standards as an opportunity.

“Common Core doesn’t tell teachers how to meet these standards. We have a chance to bring science education into Core lessons so our kids can master math and language skills by problem solving real-world environmental science scenarios,” says Baehrens. “This is not only standards and metrics and tests—we are talking about building leaders for the future of San Diego County.”

At Signs of the Tide yesterday, the speakers shared a variety of ways to teach environmental science and meet Common Core Standards, including a discussion about Project SWELL. Developed by the City of San Diego, San Diego Unified School District and Coastkeeper for grades K-2 and 4-6, Project SWELL gives teachers access to lessons, online resources and materials kits to use locally-focused, hands-on environmental activities to meet the state standards.

Oceanside Unified School District incorporates Project SWELL into its 5th grade curriculum and will launch 6th grade this year. Other environmental education programs to build Oceanside students’ awareness include the Clean Water Program and Solid Waste and Recycling Program. According to Cynthia Mallett, environmental specialist for the Clean Water Program of the City of Oceanside, the city plans to get every school to a recycling rate of 75 percent or higher in the next three to five years to manage resources and keep litter from polluting the environment.

All speakers at Signs of the Tide acknowledged challenges in meeting the state standards and shared their solutions. For instance, Mallett says she uses a kid-friendly 3D model to teach the concepts of watersheds and pollution to children.

For more information on Signs of the Tide or the Project SWELL curriculum, please email [email protected], or visit localhost/sdcoastkeeper.


SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at