Educating Virginia's environmental stewards of tomorrow.

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Whether it's rising seas or the management of natural resources, today's children are going to face new environmental challenges at some point during their lives. The best way to help them become informed and active community stewards is through education starting at an early age.


Coastal Virginia is experiencing the highest rates of sea level rise on the East Coast of the United States


Studying Environmental Education helps build critical thinking skills

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EARTH SCIENCE ONLINE COURSE

In August 2017, local leaders and school administrators helped kick off the official launch of the new environmental initiative at Norview High School in Norfolk. The event included endorsements from guest speakers including Governor Terry McAuliffe, Dr. Steven Constantino of the Virginia Department of Education, and Dr. Melinda Boone, Superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools. During the event, Governor McAuliffe announced the release of WHRO’s new Earth Science Online Course. In this exciting online course, students learn to see the planet around them like never before. Through media-rich activities, videos, collaborative discussions, hands-on scientific investigations, and real-world projects, students explore cosmology, geologic time, the Solar System, ocean life, fossil fuels, and more. The course is provided free to all public and private schools in Virginia as well as to all of the Commonwealth’s home schools.

DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE

Watch a brief tour of the Earth Science Online Course, which was developed by WHRO Education. It is available to download free of charge thanks to a generous gift by Jane Batten.

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe speaks at the launch event where WHRO unveiled its new Earth Science Online Course. McAuliffe praised WHRO's efforts to get students thinking about environmental science at an early age -- something that will be critical in the future of Hampton Roads.

CONTENT PARTNERSHIPS FOR eMediaVA℠

We are adding learning objects from local scientific and other organizations to our digital learning distribution platform eMediaVA℠ for statewide distribution. This digital content can be used by teachers to supplement their classroom instruction or incorporated into other online courses or e-textbooks that teachers may use in the future. Most of the learning objects will also include links for users to access the contributing organization's website to learn about educational field trips and other available services.

PBS Kids Environmental Resources – Through this playlist, teachers and parents can access all environment-related content from PBS Kids, from games to crafts to coloring pages. These resources are split by age and grade with a range of 3-8 and PreK-3, respectively.

WHRO also intends to produce a specific series of learning objects designed to instill positive environmental stewardship habits at an early age (grades 3-5). Patterned after the successful Healthbeat videos, a WHRO-produced series of short animated video segments modeled on the highly successful and engaging Schoolhouse Rock series, the new segments will focus on critical environmental issues

PBS KIDS WRITERS CONTEST

Each year WHRO invites Kindergarten through 5th grade students to create a great story, illustrate it and enter it in our PBS KIDS Writers Contest. This year in addition to the original contest, we will present the Batten Environmental Education Award to winning stories with an environmental theme or topic. The deadline to enter is March 30 at 5 p.m. Learn more about the writers contest.

STEM VAN COMMUNITY OUTREACH

The WHRO STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Van is a colorful van decorated with PBS KIDS characters that visits schools, community centers, and libraries in Title I communities throughout the region and appears at other child-focused events. The van is equipped with 20 iPads, 12 Chromebooks, two touchscreen monitors, two mobile labs, and supplies for pop-up makerspace and other engineering activities. WHRO staff members accompany the van to teach a variety of STEM curricula. Through the Batten Environmental Education Initiative, WHRO is adding curricula focused on environmental education that will include video segments, online games, mobile apps, and hands-on activities.

EARTH SCIENCE VIDEO COURSE

This course is being developed to help combat the growing shortage of highly-qualified Earth Science teachers throughout the Commonwealth. Covering all topics required in the current Virginia Standards of Learning, the course will consist of lessons taught by a highly-qualified Earth Science teacher “teaching to the camera” as if instructing a class of students. Modeled after our existing Algebra I and Geometry video courses, the course will be ideal not only for school divisions that lack access to an Earth Science teacher, but also for parents looking to assist their children, students preparing for a higher level science course, or students who are falling behind in a traditional classroom course.

SEA LEVEL RISE INTERACTIVE STUDENT LAB

In partnership with other local organizations, WHRO will create a mobile interactive learning lab centered on sea level rise education for grades K-5. To be developed in 2019, this mobile lab will present concepts associated with sea level rise through engaging, hands-on activities to equip children with information about the issues and show them ways they can start making a difference.
Components include:

  • A fun, animated video that follows a family through the changes to their home over a 200-year period.
  • Interactive displays showing the causes of sea level rise, ways new technology can reduce its effects, and hands-on elements that allow children to test real world effects of thermal water expansion, melting icebergs, and carbon emissions.
  • An audio Idea Center where kids can record their own ideas to combat sea level rise. These recordings will become part of a sea level rise podcast.

CREATE A STUDENT VIDEO SERIES

WHRO, in partnership with The Virginian-Pilot, the ODU Center for Sea Level Rise, Hampton University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the Mariners’ Museum, and the Virginia Aquarium will produce “Above the Waves” a 10-part video series aimed at educating students about the effects of sea level rise across Coastal Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, with a particular focus on the hyper-personal impact on individuals, communities, culture, and livelihoods.

Hundreds of thousands will be affected by climate change in Eastern Virginia. Yet there remains in some quarters an indifference to the issue. Our video series will present it in a way that engages the next generation of change makers. We want to give today’s students the knowledge and tools to elevate the dialogue and eventually reshape the region’s future.

At its heart, this is a project focused on telling stories in new and engaging ways, relating the latest scientific findings and uncovering ways to make the issue feel as pertinent as it does to the people whose lives are already disrupted by flooding. This will include telling original stories, often from a personal point of view, to connect with students in a way that makes them care about this issue.

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About the Batten Environmental Education Initiative

The Batten Environmental Education Initiative is an all-encompassing effort to educate and develop Virginia's environmental stewards of tomorrow. It was developed through a generous gift given by Jane Batten. The initiative incorporates the development of a wide-range of educational products—including online and video earth science courses, a student-oriented video series, an interactive mobile student lab, a series of short animated video segments designed to instill positive environmental stewardship habits at an early age (grades 3-5), and other learning opportunities for younger students.

About WHRO Education

Since its founding in 1961, WHRO Education has offered educational services throughout Virginia to educators, students, adult learners, and families. WHRO Education is proud to offer online educational and new media services to 286,000 students and 25,000 educators per month. Through our digital learning distribution platform eMediaVA℠, we provide free access to more than 125,000 digital learning objects for every public, private, and home school educator and their students in Virginia.

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