Early this year, NRCM accepted applications from Maine middle school educators across the state interested in incorporating more science learning projects into their classrooms. The goal of these
projects is to engage students in the nature of Maine and provide them with opportunities to learn more by interacting with their local environment. NRCM chose eight middle school teachers and awarded them education grants to fund their projects, which range from trail map design and composting in cafeterias to setting up game cameras and creating videos about climate change.
These hands-on opportunities engage students by indulging their curiosities and getting them excited about their surroundings. Every project falls under at least one of NRCM’s central focus areas: healthy waters, forests and wildlife, sustainable Maine, and climate and clean energy. On visits to these schools, the enthusiasm of educators and students alike is palpable, regardless of the project. Creating storyboards for an eventual video on climate change, students get the opportunity to explore the environment through creative writing and storytelling. Researching how local waste disposal can affect well water quality situates their science project within their community. Students can connect more than ever to the landscapes they have always been a part of because they are able to explore what flora and fauna differentiate it from other places.
Students involved in some of these projects literally get their hands dirty as a way to understand the world around them, which, in the words of more than one them, is “awesome.” Through this hands-on learning, students not only gain valuable skills about observation and the importance of healthy environments to their communities, but also become ambassadors for the Earth. Their continued exploration through these grants gives students the chance to delve into the nature of Maine, and use their awareness to protect it for years to come.
You can read more about these projects by visiting our Students Engaging in the Nature of Maine blog. Teachers and students share photos and stories from their projects throughout the school year.
—Lily Bailey, graduating senior at Bowdoin College, NRCM’s 2018 Communication Intern for the Education Grants program
Originally published in NRCM’s Spring 2018 Maine Environment newsletter