The Outdoor Classroom Oyster Project at Savin Hill Cove

Project Summary

Everyone has a stake in improving STEM education. Inspiring all our students to be capable in math and science will help them contribute in an increasingly technology-based economy, and will also help America prepare the next generation of STEM professionals-scientists, engineers, architects and technology professionals-to ensure our competiveness. – Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary.

Recognizing the need to improve science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) education, this project will incorporate the development of a STEAM curriculum for a kindergarten class at the P.A. Shaw School in Mattapan, Massachusetts. The teaching and learning process will include an expeditionary, autoethnography approach as part of a collaboration with Dr. Anamarija Frankic of Biomimicry LivingLabs and the Green Harbors Project; Suzi Fonda, School Partnerships, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Mina Girgis, The Nile Project,Egypt; Dr. Theresa Perry of The Race, Education and Democracy Stem Network; Dr. Peter Kiang of The Asian Studies Center at UMB; Baifeng Sun at the Confucius Institute at UMB; Kate Orff and The New York Oyster Project; Dr. Barbara Brown The African Studies Center at Boston University; and Dr. Deborah Meier, founder of The Mission Hill School, and MacArthur Genius Fellow.

Project Description

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results. – John Dewey

The Kindergarten class of the P. A. Shaw School will adopt the Savin Hill Cove as their outdoor learning lab. They will perform developmentally- appropriate field research focused on Boston Harbor environmental issues that impact their community, later applying their learning to a global connection to the Nile River.

Using autoenthnography, a form of storytelling, as an approach to learning, students will start out the year, sharing stories about who they are and the communities they are growing up in. As the year progresses, the expeditionary learning approach for field work in the Savin Hill Cove outdoor learning lab will enable students to share the story of their learning experiences as young scholars working along-side students, scientists, engineers and artists, tackling local environmental problems.

In conjunction with the outdoor learning lab experiences, students will create an indoor eco system of oysters that will extend the learning from the Savin Hill Cove to the classroom. The study of oysters as the central focus will be the medium for discovering solutions to environmental issues that impact their community.

The Connection to The Nile Project

The pathway to global citizenship requires students to act locally, while drawing on models of multiethnic, transboundary issues. Kindergarten students from the P.A. Shaw School will engage in both local and global study of oysters and their role as a solution to water pollution. The learning process will engage and empower students, families and communities in a meaningful way and in collaboration with The Nile Project. The outcomes from this expeditionary learning process will be showcased at The Smithsonian Institute Folk Life Festival in 2016.

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