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three students on rocks in the James River look at the rock pool, while others gather at a rock pool in the distance

SOE, Life Sciences awarded $447,000 NOAA grant

September 26, 2019

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded the VCU School of Education and VCU Life Sciences a three-year $447,000 Bay Watershed and Education Training (B-WET) grant titled Bivalves as Ecosystems Sustaining Treasures (BEST) in Bay Watersheds.

This initiative will transform students’ understanding of the importance of protecting their local watershed along the James River in Virginia. Bivalves will be used as the contextual theme connecting inland riverine and coastal marine ecosystems along an ecological continuum. Students will engage in hands-on investigations using NOAA Education Modules informed by aligned research from scientists and graduate students from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Life Sciences and the VCU School of Education. They will also collect data on water quality to support bivalves in their watersheds and exchange data among schools, as well as share their projects with local audiences, academic researchers, other schools and state representatives. The effort is working with middle school teachers from public school systems in Charles City County, Colonial HeightsNew Kent County and Newport News.

Every student in specific grades each year will participate in a local hands-on field investigation of their surrounding area and design and implement a stewardship action project that is informed by their findings. Example action projects may include efforts such as cleaning up a local stream, reducing run-off in storm water drains or agricultural areas through community awareness campaigns, or even assisting in oyster shell recycling initiatives.

This effort will be achieved through an in-depth and sustained year-long teacher professional learning experience for educators from each of the participating school districts beginning at the VCU Rice Rivers Center and leveraging local resources such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Center at the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery which hosts the Virginia Fisheries and Aquatic Wildlife Center.

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