SAN DIEGO–San Diego Coastkeeper’s water science education— Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) — greatly improves students’ awareness of local environmental issues, according to its annual results analysis. The report shows that in the 2015-2016 school year, Coastkeeper reached 4,125 students in grades K–6 and increased awareness of water issues by 56 percent, based on tests given to the students before and after the science lessons.
San Diego Coastkeeper — along with Project SWELL partners City of San Diego, Think Blue and San Diego Unified School District — provides Project SWELL curriculum, science kits, classroom presentations and teacher trainings for free to teachers in the San Diego Unified School District. The curriculum explores the impact humans have on water through a comprehensive and hands-on water quality and pollution prevention course of study. Coastkeeper surveys the students before and after to measure the students’ understanding of water issues.
“We use hands-on water-science experiments because we know kids are more likely to protect the things around them if they know how they work,” says Sandra Lebrón, education manager at Coastkeeper. “Students walk away with a better understanding of storm drain pollution, different types of runoff and the types of trash that end up in our water and how they are a part of the solution to prevent this pollution.”
Project SWELL lessons increase creativity and collaboration while meeting Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. Coastkeeper says one of the reasons it successfully reached so many students and teachers this year is due to funding from the Stiefel Behner Charitable Fund to hire a Project SWELL education specialist.
“Keith and I have been supporting San Diego Coastkeeper’s Project SWELL for over five years. In that time the program has grown substantially, serving more grades, training more teachers and reaching more schools and students,” says Cathy Stiefel, who is also a board member of Coastkeeper. “We believe that childhood science education is critical to developing an educated and aware citizenry for our community and region. There is no more important issue in San Diego than water quality and sustainability of water resources in our unique coastal environment. We have been more than gratified by the growth of the program and the enthusiastic reception from teachers and students alike.”
Having an education specialist dedicated to Project SWELL made all the difference this year, according to Coastkeeper.
“We built a stronger and more widespread bond with the students in our community—successfully connecting them with their waters,” says Coastkeeper Executive Director Tracie Barham. “We are thankful for the support of our generous donors, and we’re excited to continue this important work and expand our reach throughout the San Diego region.”
Coastkeeper says science courses are often underfunded and its programs, Project SWELL and Water Education For All, help supplement the need for more science curriculum.
For more information about this program, visit San Diego Coastkeeper’s website at http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org/learn/drinkable/project-swell.