Summertime! It’s the season for warm nights, swim meets, no homework, s’mores around a campfire, and learning. Wait, learning?

Yes, learning. August is often the time of year when teachers attend professional development trainings to prepare for the upcoming school year. For Henrico County middle school teachers in Richmond, VA involved in the Bay Watershed in Science Education (BWISE) project, this training took place at Maymont Park in Richmond on August 6 and 7.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s RiverWise Schools Coordinator, Meredeth Dash, is a partner on a 3-year grant funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to promote watershed education to 6th graders in Henrico County Public Schools. Meredeth and Georgia Busch, Manager of Outdoor and Environmental Education at Maymont planned the two day training using a “Summer Vacation” theme and took teachers on a journey through the steps of a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE). According to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, students should be exposed to a MWEE in elementary, middle, and high school.

During the first day, teachers played a variety of games and met in their subject area groups as well as their school groups. On the second day, teachers participated in a “mock” MWEE. They investigated the question, “How does water quality impact the preservation of Maymont for future generations?” by attending stations that included dip netting in a stream, creating a sidewalk mural, examining historical Maymont documents, and pretending to mimic water flow with ping pong balls. Plenty of time for group discussion was provided to give teachers a chance to develop a sense of team spirit within their school group. The BWISE model relies on a multidisciplinary approach in which English, Science, Math, Art, Spanish, Exceptional Education, and History teachers are all working together to answer the same environmental question. BWISE partners like Meredeth, continue to support teachers throughout the school year with outreach visits before and after teachers bring their 6th graders to visit Maymont.

Summertime might be almost over, but for our BWISE teams in Henrico, MWEE fun is just about to start!

For more teaching resources for MWEE, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Bay Backpack website.