Your help could further MMSA’s vision of a brighter STEM future for the State of Maine and the nation. Today, I ask you to support MMSA and become a part of the movement to support exciting new ways for our youth to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math.
What it is: The Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning in Maine is a partnership between the Maine Math and Science Alliance and the Maine Environmental Education Association, and generously supported by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation. The project is dedicated to taking the first steps toward building the capacity and networks for community-based environmental education fields in the state of Maine. A census to determine who, where, and how K-12 youth are engaging in this type of learning will be deployed between October 2018-February 2019, and a final report will be available in Spring 2019.
Why we need it: The state of Maine has a wealth of community-based environmental education initiatives. Unfortunately, many of these initiatives work in isolation from other similar initiatives and the impacts of the educational experiences are not measured or understood. Consequently, there are no overarching learning goals that this community is working towards in unison.
Goals: The long-term goal of Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning in Maine is that information will be regularly gathered from the field to:
- Determine professional development needs of those providing this type of education
- Examine current and anticipated challenges that community-based environmental learning initiatives face
- Identify regions and populations that are not being served equitably
- Identify weaknesses in how this type of education is being delivered and the impacts it generates
- Identify high quality educational experiences that could serve as exemplars for others
We have recruited an advisory board of leaders in the field of environmental education in Maine to help us accomplish these goals. For more information or if you would like to be a part of this project, please contact MMSA Research Associate Alex Brasili, firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Community-Based Environmental Learning? We are interested in learning how schools and organizations across Maine are educating youth about the environment while also connecting them to their communities. There are many terms for this type of learning including “Community-Based Education,” “Inquiry-Based Education,” “Nature-Based Education,” “Environmental Education,” “Eco-Justice Education,” “Place-Based Education,” and many others. We want to hear about all of the work going on across Maine that may fall into these categories. While these learning experiences do not have to necessarily take place outdoors, they do need to connect youth to locally relevant content.
Learning may occur in any setting including inside the classroom, outdoors, or at a nature center, zoo, park, etc. They often (but not always) include some of the following characteristics:
- Academic, social-emotional, and civic outcomes
- Youth action to improve the environment
- Opportunity to explore environmental issues
- Problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making
- Wonder of natural phenomena
Examples of what Community-Based Environmental Learning is:
- Making observations and/or gathering and interpreting data about natural phenomena outside of the classroom
- School gardens connected to math, science, or other learning outcomes
- Developing a better understanding of an environmental issue – such as water quality or air pollution – and then generating ideas for how to create change locally
- Generating computer models of environmental systems that influence the local community – such as weather, climate change, or forest ecology
- Service Learning Projects that positively impact community natural health such as removing invasive species, recycling or composting, assisting in trail building, etc.
Examples of what it is not:
- Walking on nature trails for physical activity without any additional learning outcomes
- Units on the rainforest or other topics not connected to local community ecosystems