Coastal Explorers group from this past summer. Photo/Westport River Watershed Alliance.

NOAA has announced the winners of its recent competition for education grants that will allow thousands of K-12 students around the country to get outside and participate in hands-on environmental education opportunities. A total of 59 projects will benefit from $5.5 million in grants from the NOAA Office of Education’s Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program that will support activities ranging from data driven field investigations in the Pacific Northwest to studies of stormwater management and invasive species in the Great Lakes.

B-WET Grants were awarded to 2 Massachusetts-based groups:

The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies on Cape Cod received $64,652 in grant money, while the Westport River Watershed Alliance in Westport received $10,441.

All recipients of B-WET grants emphasize meaningful watershed educational experiences — sustained, hands-on activities that are aligned with academic learning standards and responsive to regional education and environmental priorities. Some 2012 student activities include learning about currents and marine debris on the coast of Hawaii with the Malama Kai Foundation, participating in field investigations in the Gulf of Mexico with the University of Texas, and developing urban schoolyard habitats with the Living Classrooms Foundation in Chesapeake Bay.

“Field-based STEM education activities, like those funded by B-WET, are a critical part of NOAA’s education portfolio,” said Louisa Koch, director of education at NOAA. “There is growing evidence that these types of activities contribute to understanding and commitment to environmental conservation and stewardship, which is core to NOAA’s mission.”

B-WET also provides funding for formal K-12 educator training programs to help teachers incorporate meaningful watershed educational experiences, as well as NOAA data and other resources, into their classrooms. Teachers and education professionals involved with the B-WET Program are equipped with information they can share with their students and communities for years to come.

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