These last couple of weeks have been the most busy-work heavy of my entire internship. Mostly throughout this process, I was doing a lot of research- half research that would be sent to my adviser and used in curriculum for Wheeler, and half research that would be used in my own final project. But then, I got the opportunity to use the research I was doing for FYRA/Wheeler and actually begin building informational sheets.
What this meant in theory was that I was designing informational sheets for Wheeler Elementary’s 4th-5th grade students to use as a base resource for their final project. For this project, each student was assigned a different method of stormwater management (like rain gardens, filter strips, and rain barrels, to name a few), and they had to research questions like “How much does it cost?” “How effective is it in stormwater management?” “How hard would it be to implement at our school?”. From there, they would create a final project talking about their stormwater management device, and also a final creative product. This could be anything from a model of the device to an actual functioning, full sized device. The sheets I designed were the first step in this process.
What this meant in practice was that I spent a lot of time on Clipart attempting to find non-copyrighted images of stormwater management materials. (This proved to be harder than expected). If you’re interested in taking a look at some of the sheets, I have about half ready to go here. [Worksheet Guide Masterlist]
But for the kids, this project does play a crucial role in Project Based Learning, the curriculum structure that I studied as a part of my project. In PBL, a huge emphasis is placed on “21st century skills”, specifically the skills of “student voice and choice” and “student creativity”. There’s a lot of research in recent educational theory surrounding why these two skills are especially important to environmental education, as they encourage the student to take ownership over the material, thus motivating them to sustainable action.