Tech awarded grant to advance environmental, water source education
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Diane Madden, science educator for the IDEA Place and SciTEC at Louisiana Tech University, has received a grant from the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) for “Project ‘Way’ Water and You” – a program designed to educate people on the problems affecting America’s waters and to bring awareness to the naturally-occurring and human activities that impact our water sources.
The program will seek to draw participants from areas throughout Louisiana, which have various water sources from aquifers to reservoirs. It will focus on the problems that affect the quality of water in their areas, and what individuals can do to improve the water’s quality. It will also highlight the importance of wetlands to our environment and how the wetlands protect water quality by trapping sediments and retaining excess nutrients and other pollutants such as heavy metals.
“One area that tends to be omitted from the science education is the content related to the environment,” said Madden. “By working with pre-service and in-service elementary teachers and informal educators, we strive to give them exposure on how to teach content related to the environment, and then provide the participants with lesson plans which can be adjusted for any grade level and will include inquiry and hands-on activities to be used with their students.”
Madden says that instructing educators about how everyone’s every day actions can make a difference in whether or not clean potable water is available is one of the primary objectives of the project.
“Participants will participate in hands on inquiry lessons related to the Louisiana Content Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, and will be provided lesson plans and activities that they can replicate with their students,” Madden said.
Education students at Louisiana Tech will also reap the benefits of the “Project ‘Way’ Water and You” program as they will develop and sharpen their observation and data recording skills using cameras, technology, other measuring instruments. The students will also construct tables and concept maps to show how these things are interrelated. Participants will work together in small groups and prepare short presentations based upon what they have learned in their explorations in an effort to better develop communication skills.
“The goal of the project is not to stop at educating students in the classroom, but to be an outreach project which involves the parents of the students and their community members,” explains Madden. “By educating the population, especially at a young age, it is our desire that they will make a major difference in protecting our waterways as they move into leadership positions in their communities, states, and nation.
“We hope the participants learn that water users and managers should be responsible water stewards, who protect and enhance freshwater resources for people and nature.”
The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission grants are funded under the direction of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The professional development grants require that the proposals are based on sound scientific principles, have an environmental focus, and impact pre-service and/or in-service educators as well as non-formal educators in Louisiana.
Participants for the professional development opportunities will consist of educators recruited from Lincoln Parish and surrounding parishes as well as pre-service educators recruited from the universities and community colleges in the area.