MASGC Project Impacts

Thousands of P-12 students increase their understanding of healthy coastal ecosystems, fisheries and resilience through place-based hands-on learning

Relevance:

Place-based educational opportunities increase marine and environmental science knowledge and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) literacy through direct experiences in coastal environments. The experiences increase student understanding of how coastal sciences and research enhance quality of life, promote sustainability of coastal resources and help individuals make responsible decisions concerning coastal resources.

Response:

MASGC-supported environmental centers in Mississippi and Alabama (Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Environmental Studies Center, and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory) implemented programs of varying length (1-4 hours) for P-12 students. Specific program topics ranged from estuarine ecology to marine technology and included the practice of science, technology, engineering and math skills. Experiential programs were developed in conjunction with the national and state educational standards.

Results:

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Academic Year program, Mobile County Public Schools’ Environmental Studies Center’s (ESC) Project SEA ICE (Special Enrichment Activities in Coastal Ecology) and environmental education programs and the 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 16,467 P-12 students actively engaged in field experiences aboard boats, in salt marshes, at beaches, in forests and in other coastal habitats with wildlife. These experiences increased their understanding and appreciation of these habitats or organisms and developed science, technology, engineering and math skills, including authentic methods of data collection and interpretation. At the ESC, pre- and post-trip environmental knowledge data shows that student knowledge increased by 20 percent after the one-day program. Pre- and post-testing of students participating in DISL’s Academic Year classes showed a statistically significant increase (n=1,232, p<0.0001) in content knowledge, averaging a 30-percent gain.

Recap:

More than 16,000 students increased their environmental literacy and improved their STEM skills by participating in field-based education experiences through Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium-supported programs at three environmental centers. (2016)