(Guest Blogger: Jen Shileny, Illinois)
Participating in STEAM in the PARK last year at Bryce Canyon really inspired me to bring the national parks into my 4th grade classroom this year. My students were each assigned a park to research. They wrote letters to their park asking for information and brochures, researched plants, animals, environmental issues, and things to do at each of their parks. Students then took that information and created a brochure for their park and either a "billboard" or commercial persuading people to visit their park. Students took turn presenting to our class. We finished up the project last week by inviting parents and other students in to a big national park extravaganza. Students wrote facts about each park and earned "cancellation stamps" that we designed as they visited each student's station. Parents were also invited to collect cancellations stamps in their own passport books! What an amazing experience we all had. Students brought home their free 4th grade national park passes, and are all excited to begin exploring! Teacher Jen from Illinois
Thanks, Jen for making a difference!
It was our dream in 2020 to bring educators to the National Parks for a time of connection, collaboration, and creativity. We had 25 educators apply for our first DC STEAM in the PARK. We worked with the National Mall and had everything planned, but then came COVID. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the event.
We decided to try again in 2021, but this time we chose Acadia National Park. We invited 32 educators from 12 states to apply. The experience was amazing. As educators/campers, they gathered to learn about the invasive green crab (Goal 14: Life Below Water) and brainstorm ways to share this information with their students. The proof of concept was very successful.
In 2022 we had 197 campers from 32 states attend STEAM in the PARK. The educational and ranger programs focused on invasive species, social justice, life below water, sustainable cities, and clean water. There were powerful relationships built between educators, rangers, and park sites. Over 14,000 students and 197 schools received engaging lessons from these campers. The lessons were also given to the National Park site.
We will bring together 400 educators and rangers from 44 states and 1 province to 12 National Parks in 2023. (We had over 1000 apply) We will be tackling the UN Global Goals of no poverty, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, industry and innovation, climate change, responsible production and consumption, life below water, life on land, and social justice.
Over the past two years, our program has grown tenfold. The time has come where we could greatly benefit from a corporate or individual sponsor. My husband and I write the content, organize the events, handle all logistics, create communities, host each camp, and provide follow-up through Facebook community groups and Zooms. A salary and funding to subsidize camp fees are essential for sustainability.
Our hope is that someone will read this and find value in what we do. Below you will find our 2022 sizzle reel for "STEAM in the PARK." We need you to help us continue to change the world, one educator and one national park at a time
Can you help share our mission?