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$300,000 NOAA grant to develop science programs in schools

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Jan 07,  2009

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. — A $300,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Education Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program will help teach Alabama and Mississippi educators about coastal landscapes, how they have changed and how they continue to change.

Middle-school teachers who take part in the program will work with marine science educators to develop watershed education programs in their schools.

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) will contribute additional funds to evaluate the program. An ongoing MASGC project that films oral histories of people who have been part of the Coast’s seafood industry also will be incorporated into the program.

The B-WET grant will fund a watershed education program that will be conducted over a three-year period. Educators will learn about coastal landscapes and coastal resilience. Teachers and their students will map local watersheds and compare them to historical documentation. Changes on the coast will be compared to changes that occur in watersheds surrounding each participating school. Teachers and students also will conduct stewardship activities, such as planting shoreline vegetation.

“An important aspect of this watershed education project will be community-building,” said Jessica Kastler, a research associate with The University of Southern Mississippi J.L. Scott Marine Education Center.  “Motivated teachers and students will work with the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center for three years; thus building a learning community designed to examine the relationship among inland and coastal habitats.”

Kastler will coordinate the effort through the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Sharon Walker, MASGC’s education director, will help lead the project.

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