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NAPLES ? The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Collier County School District, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and other local partners reaffirmed their commitment to environmental education today with the launch of the new Big Cypress Watershed Project. The project has students from local middle schools conducting outdoor field labs in the Big Cypress Watershed.
?These field experiences engage the students in so many important ways,? said Greg Ira, Director of DEP?s Office of Environmental Education. ?They reach students at a physical, mental and emotional level, which helps them not only learn about and appreciate the environment, but also practice systematic methods of understanding it.?
The two-week field experience kicked off during National Environmental Education Week, April 11-17, and coincides with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The project is part of a statewide initiative led by DEP known as the Learning in Florida?s Environment (LIFE) program, and is designed to increase student achievement in science by engaging students in scientific inquiry in the natural environment. The LIFE program now operates in 16 locations around the state. In addition to the outdoor field labs for students, the LIFE program also includes a service learning component and professional development for teachers.
Seventh grade students from Golden Gate Middle School, Manatee Middle School and Immokalee Middle School are participating in three hands-on field labs, designed by DEP staff and partner teachers, using real-world technology to make observations and draw conclusions from their observations. The students have been provided the opportunity to explore the structural differences between crab species in the Crab Adaptations lab, examine plankton under a microscope in the Plankton lab, and observe a variety of ecosystems at Rookery Bay in the Scavenger Hunt lab.
The Office of Environmental Education seeks to cultivate and support environmental citizenship: the awareness, understanding and appreciation of Florida's environment; and the capacity to think critically and participate constructively in its protection. The Office of Environmental Education?s core program includes outdoor experiential environmental education for middle school students, the annual Governor?s Serve to Preserve: Green School Awards Program, and summer teacher professional development workshops. For more information on DEP?s LIFE Program, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/ed.
"These field experiences engage the students in so many important ways."
Last updated: April 30, 2010