As an environmental educator with Save The Bay, I strive to provide a fun filled day at one of the bay’s salt marshes while enriching science curriculum in the classroom. By showing students these intricate and diverse ecosystems, we encourage students to make their own connections between observations they make in the field and lessons they learn in the classroom.
Earlier this summer I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the CalAlive! professional development course in Fish Camp, California. This two weekend course was a unique and educational experience in which I learned ways to incorporate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into Save The Bay’s environmental education programs. It turns out that our outdoor educational programs are an excellent accompaniment to these new standards and can be a tool for teachers to bridge the gap between the classroom activities and the real world.
Incorporating New Standards for Science
Over two weekend sessions, we learned in detail about how the Next Generation Science Standards can be implemented to create an educational experience that is meaningful and lasting. I was amazed at how much this education style differs from my own growing up. The basics were the same, but the way teachers are facilitating the learning process is very different. Gone are the days in which students were lectured to and expected to retain knowledge. Instead, through various activities and teaching styles, students are encouraged to ask questions, gather information, and connect the concepts together.
I have taken home many ideas and activities that will be a great asset to our habitat restoration team. By implementing the Question Formulation Technique, I believe we will provide an educational experience that connects classroom concepts to real world scientific principles. I am proud to realize that Save The Bay’s educational programs are already aligned with the core concepts of the NGSS. The outdoor learning space is a perfect place to make observations, formulate ideas and questions, and observe connections in the natural world, and I am excited to implement my experience in the coming school year!