MASGC Project Impacts

More than 70,000 P-12 students increase environmental literacy, understanding of healthy coastal ecosystems, fisheries and resilience through place-based hands-on education programs

Relevance:

Sea Grant's goals include an environmentally literate public. Field-based hands-on education programs can increase environmental literacy as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) literacy through direct experiences in coastal environments. These field experiences increase student understanding of how coastal habitats and scientific research enhance quality of life, promote sustainability of coastal resources and help individuals make responsible decisions concerning coastal resources.

Response:

During 2014-2017, field-based hands-on learning experiences at three Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant-supported environmental centers in Mississippi and Alabama enabled more than 70,000 students to develop a personal understanding of and relationship to coastal habitats (e.g., estuaries, wetlands, forests, barrier islands), their resident organisms and critical ecological processes. These experiential learning programs addressed specific science, ocean and climate literacy concepts while developing science, technology, engineering and math skills through authentic methods of data collection. They were developed with explicit reference to national and state educational standards.

Results:

Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Discovery Hall Programs academic year sessions, Mobile County Public School System’s Environmental Studies Center Project SEA ICE (Special Enrichment Activities in Coastal Ecology) and University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Lab's Marine Education Center's Coastal Sciences Camps and Miss Peetsy-B Bayou Tours resulted in more than 70,000 P-12 students actively engaged in field experiences of varying length (1-4 hrs) aboard boats, in salt marshes, at beaches, in forests, in other coastal habitats or with coastal organisms. Pre- and post-test assessments indicated significant improvement in student content knowledge at all three environmental education center locations with statistically significant content knowledge gains ranging from 17 percent to 37 percent in more than 3,500 students.

Recap:

During the period 2014-2017, more than 70,000 P-12 students increased their environmental literacy and understanding of healthy coastal ecosystems, fisheries and resilience. They improved their STEM skills by participating in experiential field-based education experiences through Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium-supported programs at Discovery Hall Programs (Dauphin Island Sea Lab), the Environmental Studies Center (Mobile County Public School System) and the Marine Education Center (Gulf Coast Research Laboratory). (2018)