Blue Schools Teaches Kids How To Save Our One World Ocean
By Nicole Wells
When I was in fifth grade, I learned how to recycle from my teachers at school. We must not have been doing it at home at the time, as the topic of recycling to save our one world Ocean was completely new to me.
We learned the three Rs. Do you remember those? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – highlighted by three Rs that formed the shape of a triangle with arrows connecting them.
Now, as an adult with a family of my own, recycling is just as routine as doing the dinner dishes. It’s not glamorous, but it has to be done. Most weeks, we have more recycling than trash for the landfill.
My kids know how to prep stuff for the recycle bin, including what can and cannot go into it. We try to teach them the fine details that make recycling possible – like how we need to remove the plastic out of the empty tissue box so it doesn’t get mixed in with the cardboard.
Recycling Isn’t Enough to Save Our One World Ocean By Itself
Enter litter laws. Around the same time as the three Rs were created in the 1970s, litter laws were created across the United States. Some states now even have hefty four-figure fines for littering.
But it’s not only the fast-food wrapper the guy driving in front of you throws out the window at 70mph that’s a problem.
A misplaced piece of trash on garbage day in suburbia can travel all the way to a garbage patch in the middle of our one world Ocean. The ocean is like a mirror that reflects our city streets. Lingering plastic in the ocean not only affects our water but also the soil, wildlife, and even our food.
But that’s still not enough.
Recycling programs and littering laws still aren’t enough to solve the problem.
We all have a responsibility to save our one world Ocean. We need to continue to teach future generations to care for our planet. It’s not an option. It’s an obligation – a duty each of us has as citizens of this great planet. That’s why we’re developing the Blue Schools curriculum to launch in schools starting this fall of 2021.
It’s safe to say that some of the recent and current events in our world have shown our children there are things in life we can’t depend on.
You can point to any number of things to illustrate this point. For example, all the shutdowns that resulted from the global pandemic. With all the question marks surrounding the present times, it’s hard for kids to have hope for a bright future.
But we know it doesn’t end there.
There will always be things that are out of our control. But we can teach students to have a strong internal sense of control. To help them own the perspective that they have the power to influence our world – their world – for the better.
It starts with each of us.
What Is Blue Schools?
Blue Schools is a grade-level K-12 STEM curriculum that empowers students to be stewards of our one world Ocean. The Blue Schools curriculum helps students make the connection between the watershed beneath our feet and the ocean we all share. Through the curriculum, we show that it is our responsibility to care for our water supply – to save our one world Ocean.
When we understand that, together we can put the hope back. We can teach future generations that the earth is worth caring for and our actions matter. Hope leads to action and action leads to a better world.
Our Blue Schools Curriculum will launch in 40 K-5 Oregon classrooms this fall of 2021. That’s 1200 students!
And that’s just the beginning.
We’re developing the ecology and sustainability-based curriculum to launch in grades 6-12. Our long-term vision is to reach every student around the United States.
Just like how I learned the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle program as a kid.
Customizable Curriculum to Fit Local Needs
One of the things that make the Blue Schools curriculum unique is the ability to customize it to reflect one’s local watershed, classroom, and community. We’re already working with educators to fine-tune lesson plans before launching this fall.
Local streams, rivers, beaches, lakes, or other bodies of water that are nearby are incorporated into the lesson plans. This way, students get a hands-on opportunity to live out what they’re learning with outdoor field experiences and stewardship action projects.
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences, MWEEs
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences are called MWEEs for short. Our MWEE is an ecology-based curriculum that includes four main segments:
- Classroom or Distance Learning
- Outdoor Field Experiences and Stewardship Action Projects
- Community Involvement
- Reflection and Synthesis
The second segment is called Outdoor Field Experiences and Stewardship Action Projects. There’s no easy acronym for that one but it’s as simple as this:
It helps students apply what they’re learning and take action.
Imagine this scenario.
It’s a little loud in class this morning. Louder than usual. There’s excitement in the air. The teacher doesn’t mind like s/he normally would. The teacher is excited too!
The class is getting ready to leave the four cinder block walls and fluorescent lights of the school building for an inspiring outdoor classroom … The bus is waiting in the parking lot. Parent volunteers are starting to arrive.
Thankfully, it’s a sunny day. Because they’ll be spending the morning at a local watershed. When they arrive, they see a river nearby. Students are surprised that the river is this close to their school.
One student takes a deep breath. The air is crisp and fresh. Another student points out a bright red bird.
“It’s a cardinal,” her friend says with excitement.
A third student is surprised at the amount of trash nearby.
“That’s why we’re here,” the teacher says.
What if kids were more excited about exploring the outdoors than sitting in front of a screen? What if we inspire a generation of question-askers, earth-caretakers, explorers, and doers? Just imagine what could happen!
Water Pollution is Everyone’s Problem
If you’ve been skimming this article, here’s the point you don’t want to miss.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect the future of our one world Ocean.
Even if you’re not an educator, and you don’t have a student, we still have lots of resources for you. Check our Ocean Blue Project website for resources, ideas, and education.
Get Blue Schools Curriculum in Your School
Do you know a student or school district that would love to have access to Blue Schools education?
The answer is probably yes.
Throw on some sunscreen and grab your surfboard, or in this case, the internet, and email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you get started!
Help Us Save Our One World Ocean
You can join Patagonia, Boxed Water, and hundreds of individuals that are supporting our mission of clean water and education for all.
Ocean Blue Project is a non-profit and we are committed to removing one pound of plastic for every dollar donated to our project. You can help us remove one million pounds of plastic by 2025 through your donations, involvement with cleanups, and incorporating the Blue Schools curriculum in your public, private, or homeschool classroom.
Blue Schools is backed by NOAA and EPA
We’re using the guidelines and requirements of both organizations to make sure our lessons are effective and useful. According to NOAA Bay Watershed Education Training, MWEEs have four essential elements and four supporting practices.
MWEE Essential Elements
- Issue Definition: Teachers work with students to define a local environmental issue. Once this issue is defined, a corresponding question guides students’ learning.
- Outdoor Field Experiences: Students head outdoors for guided experiences to investigate.
- Synthesis and Conclusions: Students apply what they’ve observed to draw conclusions.
- Stewardship Actions: Students identify an action to address the issue. This is one way to show students they have the power to create a positive change.
MWEE Supporting Practices
- Active Teacher Support: Teachers support student-centered learning throughout the curriculum.
- Classroom Integration: The curriculum works with what is already going on in the classroom.
- Local Context: The curriculum gets customized for the local area and community.
- Sustained Learning experience: There are rich learning opportunities from beginning to end.
For a more in-depth look at the Essential Elements and Supporting Practices for MWEEs, take a look at this document on the NOAA website.
Author Bio: Nicole Wells is a freelance copywriter for mission-minded brands. When not writing, she loves hand pouring Direct Trade coffee, hiking with her husband and three kids, and reading non-fiction, with said coffee nearby.