A collaborative effort involving multiple organizations has resulted in an EPA Environmental Education grant to the Needham Science Center. The two-year grant, totaling $44,500 plus in-kind grants of about $15,000, will be used to implement a collaborative environmental education program called the Eco-Explorers Project that fundamentally transforms the way our K-5 students and classroom teachers interact with the environment.
Led by Science Center Director Mary Rizzuto and the SC staff, the project utilizes an Environmental Education Leadership Team (EELT) that functions as a professional learning community. The collaboration that made the proposal possible will not only continue, but expand, as the project will use the resources of over 11 community partners including Needham Community Farm, the Needham Public Schools Food Service, 5 Parent Teacher Councils (PTCs), Green Needham, Needham Department of Public Works, Friends of Woods and Waters, and the Conservation Commission.
Eco-Explorers focuses on the environmental issue of Sustainability through hands-on, mind-on exploration, inquiry process skills, and authentic science-based learning. The project is designed to institutionalize an approach that will bring students from awareness to knowledge/skills, to problem-solving/decision-making, and to action/stewardship as 4th and 5th grade Eco-Rangers. Most importantly, teachers and students will experience environmental education embedded within the social framework of sustainability and multidisciplinary content rather than as a stand-alone subject.