The NOAA B-WET Program is an environmental education program that supports outdoor, experiential learning through competitive grant awards in specific geographic regions.
Prior to 2008, NOAA B-WET Programs were established for the Chesapeake Bay and Monterey, CA areas, and the Hawaiian Islands.
In 2008 three new programs began, in New England, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest.
We anticipate that funds for new and continuing projects will be available under the New England B-WET program in Fiscal Year (FY) 201 5. Proposals are currently being solicited for the New England B- WET program under this funding opportunity.
For the purposes of this solicitation, the New England region is defined as the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
NOAA recognizes that knowledge and commitment built from firsthand experience, especially in the context of one's community and culture, are essential for achieving environmental stewardship.
Successful projects are those carefully selected place-based experiences that are driven by rigorous academic learning standards, engendering discovery, wonder, and associated stewardship impulses.
B-WET projects nurture a sense of community, enable students to understand their place in their watershed, help reinforce an ethic of responsible citizenship, and promote academic achievement.
Experiential learning techniques, such as those supported by the NOAA B-WET Program, have been shown to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
This funding opportunity supports K-12 environmental education programs that provide students with meaningful watershed education experiences (MWEEs), and provide related professional development and support to in-service teachers, administrators, or other educators serving K-12 students in New England.
The Atlantic Ocean and its bays, and tidal and non-tidal rivers and tributaries are an excellent resource for environmental education.
These waterbodies and the surrounding landscape provide hands-on, place-based laboratories where students can see, touch, and learn about watersheds and the greater environment.
For purposes of this solicitation, MWEEs are defined as below:
- Experiences are investigative or project oriented.
They center around questions, problems, and issues investigated through data collection, observation, and hands-on activities.
Experiences stimulate observation, motivate critical thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and instill confidence in students.
Where age and experience-appropriate, technology such as probeware, tablets, and GPS equipment should be integrated throughout the instructional process.
Experiences such as tours, gallery visits, simulations, demonstrations, or nature walks may be instructionally useful but alone do not constitute a meaningful experience.
- Experiences are an integral part of the instructional program and clearly part of what is occurring concurrently in the classroom.
The experience should be part of the curriculum and align with the academic standards.
They should occur where and when they fit into the instructional sequence.
- Experiences do not have to be based solely on scientific disciplines.
They may involve materials, resources, and instruments that address multiple topics, such as maritime heritage, history, economics, civic, math, English, art, and the cultural significance of our natural resources.
They should make appropriate connections between subject areas and reflect an integrated approach to learning.
- Meaningful experiences are part of a sustained activity that stimulates and motivates the student from beginning to end.
Though a watershed experience itself may occur as one specific event on one day, the total duration leading up to and following the experience should involve a significant investment of instructional time.
Each experience should consist of three general phases:
preparation; action; and reflection.
Projects should provide teachers with the support, materials, resources, and information they need to conduct these three phases.
The preparation phase should focus on a question, problem, or issue and involve students in discussions about it.
The action phase should include multiple outdoor experiences sufficient to conduct the project, make the observations, or collect the data required.
We strongly encourage an action phase that includes both investigation and restoration or stewardship projects that improve the environment.
The reflection phase should refocus on the question, problem, or issue; analyze the conclusions reached; evaluate the results; assess the activity and the knowledge gained; and include sharing and communication of the results.
- Experiences consider the watershed as a system.
MWEEs should make a direct connection to the marine or estuarine environment.
Experiences do not have to be water-based activities as long as an intentional connection is made to the watershed, water quality, and the coastal and marine environment.
Watershed experiences may include terrestrial activities (e.g., erosion control, buffer creation, groundwater protection, pollution monitoring or prevention).
- NOAA products, services, or personnel enhance these experiences.
NOAA can increase the impact of outdoor experiences with its wealth of applicable products and services, and cadre of scientific and professional experts.
For example, NOAA data can supplement or contextualize the information collected by students.
NOAA personnel have technical knowledge and experience that can serve to complement the classroom teacher's strengths and augment the array of resources for education.
The inclusion of NOAA products and services in classroom activities will increase awareness of the agency's vast natural, informational, and data resources and may lead to better understanding of its mission.
Additionally, these professionals can serve as important role models for career choices and as natural resources stewards, thus promoting STEM careers.