WATCH in the Schools

A 4-Year Plan

The Water and Air Team of Charlevoix (WATCH) and its committee Conservation and Renewable Energy (CARE), have partnered over the years with the schools in Charlevoix County.  Most of these efforts have focused on increasing awareness and appreciation for recycling.  WATCH intends to build upon this relationship by developing several programs we believe will assist and benefit schools, teachers, and students through three initiatives, Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support, Environmental Internships, and an alternative energy construction competition:

Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support (MEECS)

A few of the teachers at the MEECS Energy Resources Workshop, Fall of 2010

Teachers at the MEECS Water Quality Workshop, Spring of 2011

MEECS is an established environmental education curriculum consisting of lessons and support materials, designed to assist teachers in integrating environmental science into the classroom.  The curriculum is aligned to Michigan curriculum framework standards and benchmarks, and has been teacher-tested in Michigan classrooms.

The curriculum was developed by the Central Michigan University Science-Mathematics-Technology Center and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  Michigan Technological University has supplemented three of the curriculum’s units with interactive web-based modules (http://techalive.mtu.edu/meec_index.htm)

The curriculum consists at this time of 5 modules, which we propose rolling out in the following order:

School year 2010-2011

  • Energy Resources – grades 7 – 9

School year 2011-2012

  • Water Quality – grades 6 – 8
  • Air Quality – grades 7 – 9

School year 2012-2013

  • Ecosystems and Biodiversity – grades 4 – 6
  • Land Use – grades 4 – 5

In years one and two, the program will be implemented in middle schools; in year three, elementary schools.

Under the MEECS program, teachers participate in workshops that typically last 4 – 6 hours per unit.  Each hour of workshop training is equal to 0.10 SB-CEU units.  Some workshops are eligible for college course credit as well.  At the end of the workshop, teachers receive “classroom unit kits” that include the following:

  • Binder of lesson plans
  • CD-ROM version of binder plus extension lessons, supplemental resources, videos, etc.
  • Hands-on activities and experiments
  • Pre- and post-tests
  • MEAP-like unit assessments
  • Posters and worksheets

WATCH Support for MEECS

Teacher materials cost $75 per unit.  When purchased in conjunction with a workshop, they cost $50.  The cost of bringing a teacher to our area to deliver a workshop is around $300 plus expenses.

WATCH intends to provide the following support for the program:

  • Will provide an Executive Administrator to coordinate and manage the program
  • Will subsidize 100% of the cost of the workshop (instructor, instructor travel and expenses, facility cost)
  • Will provide lunch for the teachers attending the course
  • Will work with Char-Em to arrange SB-CEU credit
  • Will work with NCMC to provide college course credit, if teachers have an interest
  • Will reimburse the schools for the cost of substitute teachers @ $100 per day

In year 1, we may have to seek private donations for this program due to our late start in investigating grants available.  Thereafter we will seek grants (EPA Environmental Education and private foundation grants) to pay for the program.

Internships

Several federal agencies and private organization offer grants to nonprofit organizations that will provide environmental internships for students.  Typically, high school students are paid minimum wage or a little better to work on various real-world projects involving conservation and rehabilitation, wildlife management, and public education.  The internships are scheduled between June 1 and September 30.

WATCH proposes to seek grant monies to support a small number of such internships,   one the first year, and 3 in the summers of 2013 and 2014.  The role of WATCH would be to establish a process for selecting the most qualified applications for these programs, perhaps relying on the recommendations of teachers of AP science classes.

WATCH’s Executive Administrator will coordinate this program, write grant proposals, provide reports to the granting agency, and work with the hiring agency to evaluate interns.

Alternative Energy Construction Competition

In order to prepare students from this area, many of whom anticipate a future in construction trades, with the skills and knowledge necessary in today’s world, we propose funding an Alternative Energy Construction Competition.  We have not decided yet exactly what this will be, but Cheri Leach, executive director of Ravenhill Discovery Center, has expressed an interest in a project that enhances their new “Energy House.”  Other options include a wind turbine at one of the libraries, or an alternative energy trailer.

WATCH will:

  • Develop a “Request for Proposal” for the project

School year 2011-2012

  • Obtain funding for a construction / learning project to build it

School year 2012 – 2013

  • Work with students at participating high schools to develop their proposals and possibly obtain additional funding under the “Do Something” grant program
  • Provide a public forum for students to present and defend their proposals
  • Select the best proposal

School year 2013 – 2014

  • Celebrate the successful completion of the project

We believe that this project could generate some excitement in the community as well as help students develop valuable skills.  We anticipate that although the Construction Trades students may do the building of the project, others with writing skills, speaking skills, and art/design skills will be involved in creating the proposal and the project.

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