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Teachers, students and parents today have a bewildering and fast-moving array of technology innovations that purportedly will help students learn and teachers teach. Unfortunately, it is hard for anyone to grasp what works, let alone what works best. Texas Aquatic Science has become a model for enhanced water education that has rapidly risen to the top of search engine rankings for aquatic science. The project was conceived in the course of developing means to integrate use of various new mobile and interactive technologies into middle and high school curricula about water from headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico. The researchers heard that to effectively use new technology and materials regularly, there needed to be a context for their use.

Led by educators and researchers from the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment (Texas State University), Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi), and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the initiative expanded through support from over 20 partners and multiple funders to develop that context. This resulted in a comprehensive STEM pathway to engage learners from middle school through adulthood on an educational journey to create water savvy citizens of tomorrow who will ensure effective stewardship of water in the Gulf states and beyond.

Project partners published a comprehensive textbook available in print and on-line versions, assembled a teacher guide with instructional and assessment materials that allowed integration of technology enhancements, produced videos and enhancement materials, and developed a field site program connecting aquatic science in the classroom with educators and outdoor place-based experiential learning in the field. This provided a comprehensive context for instruction of middle and high school students and served as a basis for aquatic science instruction at the college level for non-science majors, in the home-school environment, and to anyone wanting to learn about nature and water. Curricula met Texas teaching standards for relevant principles of geology, geography, chemistry, physics, ecology, and biology in the text and associated teaching materials. Experience and results of research to-date demonstrate integrating education enhancements into comprehensive curricula enhance student learning and teacher ability to provide meaningful instruction. We believe the model can be used for developing science education curricula in other areas of environmental sustainability, such as for watershed science, land conservation, or coastal areas management.


Originally published as:

Rosen, R. A., E. Scanlon, and J. Smith. 2016.Aquatic science education pathway from headwaters to ocean is a model for place-based experiential learning for protecting and stewarding Gulf states’ freshwater and marine resources: Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions, v. 66, p. 475–485.

Posted in Digital Commons with the permission of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. To reuse this article, please contact the publisher.