School Programs Reinvented to Support New Learning Environments
Since COVID-19 upended traditional ways of learning, Mass Audubon educators statewide have worked hard to reinvent our nature-based science programs taught in local schools and at wildlife sanctuaries. The result is a new curriculum that provides maximum flexibility and a connection with the outdoors.
The result is a new Kindergarten through Grade 8 curriculum called The Science of Massachusetts. It's composed of nine lessons per grade level, each of which includes introductory recorded videos, field journal assignments, curriculum resources, and (when possible) live online or in-person visits with a Mass Audubon teacher.
The lessons, which align with the Massachusetts Science Frameworks, focus on concepts such as habitats, adaptations, energy and water cycles, and climate change.
A Flexible Approach
Wellfleet Bay educator Spring Beckhorn—a member of the curriculum development team for Kindergarten through Grade 2—shared that one aim of The Science of Massachusetts is to give teachers the resources they need in formats that can be used whether students are at home, in the classroom, or a combination of both.
"Teachers can use the prepared materials any way that works for them and with support from Mass Audubon," Beckhorn said. "The program includes an opportunity for a Mass Audubon educator to share journal assignments or practice science skills together."
She added, "Teachers tell us it's helpful for students to hear different voices and to learn from partner organizations in the community.”
Mission Remains the Same
All lessons include an outdoor learning component that can take place in a student's neighborhood, the schoolyard, or at a wildlife sanctuary.
"The goal is the same as it was before the pandemic changed formats for teaching," Beckhorn noted. "We want to get kids outdoors where they can learn to observe what's going on in the natural world, ask questions, and learn to record their observations and data."
Cape Cod-based school programs will also continue. A popular Grade 7 program about birds has been shifted to an online format that includes a virtual visit to Wellfleet Bay's bird banding station via video. Field journal assignments are incorporated throughout the program to provide opportunities for the practice of observation skills and data collection as students follow along in the process of bird banding.
Mass Audubon Cape Cod wishes to thank its generous donors for supporting the development and delivery of these new, flexible educational resources and programs to our local schools!