A pilot program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science gives high school students firsthand insight into changes in the Chesapeake Bay.
Earth science classes from Gloucester and Mathews high schools have made four visits to VIMS as a part of the new program, Climate Education for a Changing Bay.
CECB is offered by the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia at VIMS, and works to improve students’ knowledge about the climate. The pilot this school year is funded by a grant National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and uses local data in the classroom and field experiences to study sea-level rise, water-quality topics and effects on coastal communities on a larger scale.
“Our goal in implementing CECB is to meet the requirement mandated in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement that states all students must have a meaningful Chesapeake Bay watershed experience before they graduate from high school,” said CBNERR Education Specialist Jaclyn Beck in a news release. She said students should have a better grasp on climate change and how it is relevant to their lives.
Students have used survey equipment to map zones of salt-tolerant plants, collected water-quality data on shallow-water ecosystems and participated in a role-playing scenario where they took on the roles of different stakeholders – including emergency responders, land planners, and watermen – and presented scenarios for reacting for climate change.
Teacher Jennifer Haydon said in the news release her students are already asking when they can return.
“The CECB program helped educate my class about the resources available in their own backyard,” she said. “The program allowed them to discover how and why these resources are important to our community and our way of life.”
If CECB receives funding for the 2014-2015 school year, it will incorporate every ninth-grade student in the Gloucester and Mathews school systems.
In addition to CECB, the NOAA grant funded a training workshop for high school teachers throughout Hampton Roads to take place on the VIMS campus for three days in June. Educators and scientists will work with instructors to bring materials and plans on climate change to bring back to their classrooms.