Why Create Wetlands at Schools
Wetlands are considered to be the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. And 43% of all species listed as threatened or endangered in the United States by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service depend on wetlands for their survival.
Experts report that less than one-half of the wetlands in the contiguous 48 United States remain. Over 28% of the wetlands in Massachusetts were lost to drainage from the 1780's to 1980's.
By bringing the "lab" to the school through wetland creation, we make outdoor learning accessible, and more feasible than bussing to off campus study sites.
Public school campuses were often created on or adjacent to what were once considered "valueless wetlands," and it is not difficult to find appropriate open space to restore wetlands at schools.
The project partnership involves both teachers and students in the step-by-step process of planning, creating, and then studying the wetland on school grounds.
By actively participating in the creation of a wetland, students will gain a sense of investment and ownership in the project and receive valuable practical experience in real life ecological engineering. Ecological engineering is the design of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both.
Once created, the Living Lab wetland will serve as an ongoing study site. The interactive, experiential learning opportunities can reinforce in-class learning of core science, technology, engineering, and math concepts that are embedded into federal and state learning standards.
Long Pasture teacher naturalists offer place-based learning approaches to schools, integrating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and MA Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards. These standards promote real world science learning by complementing core concepts about how the world works with active investigations to increase and provide a context for understanding.
Schools can expect the creation of a Living Lab on their property to provide the following environmental benefits:
- Restoring less productive land to a more productive state as a functioning vernal pool
- Increasing biodiversity (amphibian, avian, invertebrate, and more)
- Providing habitat for target species (spotted salamander, wood frog, bats)
- Resiliency by cleaning run-off, reducing flooding, and recharging groundwater
- Establish a living classroom for education and basis for citizen science