The Watershed Education Program is an interdisciplinary environmental education program developed by the Westport River Watershed Alliance. Originally designed to complement existing school curriculum within the boundaries of the watershed of the Westport River, WEP has been adapted for use within the Buzzards Bay watershed. WEP incorporates the philosophies of the Partnerships Advancing Learning in Math and Science (PALMS) initiative and the recommendations of the Massachusetts Science Curriculum Frameworks into a series of teacher guides, workshops, and field studies.
The main emphasis of the primary grade (PreK-2) lessons is environmental awareness; for grades 3-5, the focus shifts to introduce man’s interrelationship with the environment and his impact on nature. Middle School activities (grades 6-8) focus on the economic value of the watershed’s resources to the region as well as pollution and its impact on the water quality of the river and ground water.
The lessons included in each guide are designed to build upon the concepts introduced in the preceding year. For example, in kindergarten the focus is on the aquatic environment. In grade 1, students then learn about the plants and animals inhabiting seasonal wetlands, called vernal pools.
Enveloped within each topic are concepts which are repeated two or three times during the student’s school career, enabling introduction of more complex aspects of issues in the upper grade levels.
The topics include:
Kindergarten: The Aquatic World
Grade 1: Plants & Animals of Vernal Pools
Grade 2: Coastal Habitats
Grade 3: Ospreys Are Special / A Feathery Focus
Grade 4: The Estuary
Grade 5: The Dunes System
Grade 6: Wetland Wonders
Grade 7: Watershed Ecosystems
Grade 8: Marine Ecology
The field studies include:
Kindergarten: Exploring of Senses in Nature
Grade 1: Vernal Pool Exploration
Grade 2: Ocean Detectives
Grade 3: Birds of the Watershed
Grade 4: Estuary Field Study
Grade 5: The Dune Restoration Project
Grade 6: Wetland Exploration
Grade 7 : Watershed Inventory
Grade 8: Plankton Survey
High School: Adopt-A-Watershed