Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences, or MWEEs (pronounced me-wees), are engaging and immersive learning opportunities that combine classroom investigations and issue definitions, multiple in-depth field experiences, student-driven action projects, and post-MWEE reflection and sharing. Pickering Creek Audubon Center offers three MWEE program options for middle and high school students. In addition to the MWEEs, we offer a multi-day classroom and student action program for elementary students. All of our MWEEs and multi-day programs are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards, and Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards.
For more information on scheduling, pricing, or program content, or if you’d like to work with Pickering Creek to design a MWEE or multi-day classroom program for your school system, please contact Mary Helen Gillen, Education Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-822-4903.
Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences
Audubon Conservation Team 4 Birds (ACT 4 Birds)
The ACT 4 Birds program gets students into their schoolyard throughout the year to determine how wildlife and people are using the schoolyard, make observations and collect data about the health of the schoolyard as a habitat, and synthesize their data to make conclusions and recommendations for how the schoolyard can be more “bird friendly.” Throughout the year, Pickering Creek educators visit the classroom to lead a series of lessons, including lessons on building bird-friendly communities, conducting schoolyard habitat surveys, and a habitat planning lesson to design a new and/or improved habitat space for birds in the schoolyard. Students regularly venture outdoors with teacher-led science lessons that take them outside, a field experience at Pickering Creek (see “Investigating Bird-Friendly Habitat” field experience description under the School Programs tab) and 1-2 student action project days. Pickering Creek will work closely with teachers, students, and school administrators to determine appropriate ACT 4 Birds action projects for the school grounds or other community space.
Appropriate for middle school students.
Wetlands and Climate Change
The Wetlands and Climate Change program connects students to the impacts of climate change through investigations and explorations of a habitat found on the Eastern Shore – wetlands – and the important climate change mitigation role wetlands play as carbon sinks. Classroom teachers start the program with a series of introductory lessons before Pickering Creek educators visit the classroom for the Wetlands and the Carbon Cycle lesson, introducing students to the concept of how carbon moves through not just the earth, ocean, and atmosphere in general, but certain habitats specifically. During a soil lab, students discover the properties of wetland soil that allow it to store and sequester large amounts of carbon. Students trek into the restored freshwater wetlands during their day-long field experience at Pickering Creek to discover the ecosystem services these important habitats provide. Students use nets to survey organisms in the wetland pools, shovels to examine the hydric soil, and hand lenses to peer closely at and dissect hydrophilic plants. Through a series of fun and active games, students make connections between the impacts of climate change on habitats and wildlife, and then dig in and take action with a wetland planting to improve a local carbon sink. They complete their program with a follow-up reflection activity in the classroom.
Appropriate for middle school students.
Audubon Watershed Experience
The Audubon Watershed Experience (AWE) program connects high school biology and environmental science students in a tangible way with the landscape and wildlife within their watershed while investigating human impacts, environmental issues, and the benefits of habitat restoration and other best management practices as solutions to environmental problems. With comprehensive in-class activities and a day-long field experience at Pickering Creek, students in the AWE program investigate how land use within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed has changed over time, and how these changing landscapes impact water quality and habitat health. In class, students research the impacts of invasive species, land cover and land use, population density, future threats (such as sea-level rise), rural water quality issues, and urban water quality issues on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed as whole, and then narrow that focus to a specific landscape during their field experience at Pickering Creek. During their day-long trip to Pickering, students go beyond thinking about problems to looking into productive responses to those problems, such as restoration efforts (for more information about the field experience, see “Audubon Watershed Experience” under the School Programs tab). Students return to the classroom to design their own restoration plan, including plant selection, budget, and detailed map drawing. Their program concludes with a “Pass It On” project to reflect and pass on their knowledge to the larger community.
Appropriate for high school students.
Multi-Day Classroom Programs (non-MWEE)
Climate Change and Student Action
The Climate Change and Student Action program empowers elementary students and teachers to take grade-level appropriate action addressing climate change. Teachers begin the program with an introductory lesson on the carbon cycle and the difference between weather and climate. Pickering Creek educators then visit the classroom for 3-4 additional lessons - What is Climate Change; Climate Change: What Can We Do; and Climate Solutions and Actions. Throughout the program, students research the climates and habitat types of different ecosystems, including the Arctic, Chesapeake Bay, American Desert, deciduous forests, and ocean and coral reefs. An optional engineering extension lesson helps students think critically about how design and construction of human homes may need to shift as climate changes, and provides students with the opportunity to practice the design and engineering process. The program concludes with a student action project and sharing knowledge and resources with the larger school community. Pickering Creek will work closely with teachers, students, and school administrators to determine appropriate action projects for the school grounds or other community space.
Appropriate for 4th-5th grade students.