B-WET: Shifting baselines: Watershed connections to landscape changes


  • Build and sustain a learning community including middle school teachers, students, and marine educators.
  • Develop, pilot, and implement a meaningful watershed education experience (MWE).
  • Disseminate MWE via community web pages, presentations and publications.


Recruit six teacher participants from among Mississippi seventh grade science teachers and Alabama sixth grade science teachers.  Each teacher will recruit two teammates who teach the same students in a different subject (for example, math, social studies, or English).  With their students, these teachers will compose a School Team.

Educators from the J. L. Scott Marine Education Center (MEC) will

  • Work with contractor to produce an oral history video in which commercial fishermen and others who have witnessed coastal landscapes over decades describe the changes.
  • Conduct activities (one four-day, summer Shifting Baselines Workshop, one annual MEC field trip for each teacher, and one end-of-year Stewardship Summit for the learning community).
  • Conduct regular, scheduled communication with School Teams (via email, telephone, conference call). 
  • Instruct learning community regarding landscape variation between school watersheds and the coast over decades, use of oral histories and scientific data in documenting changes, the types of educational and technical products available as resources for the MWE, and key topics such as watersheds, coastal resiliency, shifting baselines, and restoration.

Each School Team will

  • Participate in scheduled activities.
  • Develop and pilot a classroom unit that will become part of the MWE.
  • Implement the complete MWE consisting of classroom units developed by each School Team.

An advisory board consisting of eight scientists and educators from Mississippi and Alabama will guide the project.


This project aims to improve teaching and learning about science and the environment through a sustained professional development opportunity for teachers integrated with classroom educational experiences to create a learning community in which all participants take responsibility for their individual learning. Sustaining the program over three years for the same teacher participants will allow teachers to build knowledge of key topics, and incorporate that knowledge into classroom units.The classroom units developed by the school teams will use multiple techniques and existing materials to help students build knowledge starting with their awareness of the present-day watershed in which they live, to include its connection to the ocean and the way the landscape has changed in recent decades. The progress of this learning community will be documented on a simple web page to make all materials and techniques available to other teachers.