DEP Environmental Education Grant - Nature Explorers
Since 2018, I have directed and designed the curriculum for an experiential environmental summer camp for 2nd through 4th graders
Each year, Science-U hosts 15-20 week-long summer science programs that engage over 550 students entering grades 2-12 in hands-on, investigatory curriculum focused on topics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since its founding in 1999, Science-U has been exciting young learners from across the U.S. about the STEM possibilities in their future and providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to explore those STEM pathways.
Nature Explorers is an ecology-themed Science-U camp that features hands-on activities designed to teach 50 2nd to 4th graders per year about the natural world. Since the camp’s creation in 2018, participants spend a week exploring the outdoors through experiential learning and inquiry-based exploration. In addition, the camp employs curriculum that aligns with Next Generation and PA state science standards and is pulled from exceptional sources, such as Project WILD. You can view videos summarizing the Nature Explorers experience here (2018) and here (2019). After being awarded a 2021-2022 DEP Environmental Education Grant, the culminating experience for Nature Explorers participants is now a trip to a local stream to study the macroinvertebrates present and test the water quality using EarthEcho Water Monitoring Kits.
1. Inspire curiosity and discovery about the environment and being a scientist as a whole
2. Facilitate a positive outdoor experience for campers and help them develop a sense of place
3. Teach campers about a wide variety of aspects of the environment, including cycles, water quality, climate change, and environmental stewardship
In Past Years…
87.3% of campers liked the activities at this camp.
100% of staff thought that Nature Explorers was “effective” or “very effective” at creating exciting, engaging science experiences for campers to promote the pursuit of personal interests in STEM fields
94% of parents rated Nature Explorers as “Excellent” or “Superior.
8/10 groups named the DEP-funded stream study as their favorite activity of the week
Power in Numbers
Different Penn State Departments and Community Groups Involved