Texas State Aquarium Receives $100,000 Grant from NOAA to Aid Teachers in Watershed Education

November 27, 2017

NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Bay-Watershed Education and Training (Gulf B-WET) Program has awarded a $100,000 grant for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 to the Texas State Aquarium’s Flint Hills Resources Center for Excellence in STEM Education.

The grant money will go towards a project entitled Coastal Bend Watershed Resilience Education (CBWRE). The Texas State Aquarium’s Flint Hills Resources Center for Excellence in STEM Education will serve as the lead partner for CWBRE along with the City of Corpus Christi and AECOM.

Working with its partners, the Aquarium’s education team will recruit 40 Coastal Bend middle school science and high school aquatic science teachers to design and implement five multi-stage environmental stewardship activities called Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs), each located at five locations throughout the Nueces Bay Watershed. The Texas State Aquarium will be the first MWEE site where teachers will explore watershed habitats and exhibits, test field equipment and kits, and investigate how coastal areas can become more resilient to hurricanes, sea level rise, and oil spills, among other watershed threats. Experts from the Aquarium, the City, and AECOM will also be present to answer questions and assist with research.

They’ll then continue to test and conduct their MWEES at at four other sites: Padre Island National Seashore, Port of Corpus Christi, Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve & Learning Center, and the Nueces Delta Preserve. Each MWEE will make use of the inquiry-based learning model, which encourages students to get involved and ask questions to make their own discoveries.

After six months of research and field studies, the teachers will regroup at a collaborative Open Space event to share their MWEE experiences and discuss how to use their MWEE studies in their classrooms. Teachers can also apply for additional funding to design and pilot MWEES for their students.

“Coastal communities, including those right here in Texas, are experiencing increasing hazards in the face of climate change, so it’s critical that our future generations are aware of watershed conservation challenges,” said Leslie Peart, Vice President of Education and Conservation. “This generous grant will help us empower teachers and students to strengthen their STEM skills and environmental literacy and show them how they can be agents of change in the environment and help build and maintain resilient watershed environments.”

Educators are encouraged to apply at https://goo.gl/forms/y2hDXzsBZfnGcS5y2. The application period will open tomorrow, November 28 and will close on December 13, 2017.

Begun in 2008, the NOAA Gulf of Mexico Bay-Watershed Education and Training (Gulf B-WET) Program is an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, authentic experiential learning focused on K–12 audiences. NOAA recognizes that firsthand experiences nurture a sense of discovery and community in students and inspire them to care for their watershed.

A list of all Gulf B-WET projects funded (including recipient organizations, project titles, and project summaries), since the program’s inception, can be found at the Gulf B-WET website.

For more information, educators, media, or other interested parties can contact the Texas State Aquarium’s Vice President of Education and Conservation Leslie Peart at lpeart@txstateaq.org or 361-881-1218.

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