Teachers throughout the Bay watershed will have to hike no farther than the nearest computer to learn how to integrate the Chesapeake, and the rivers and streams that feed it, into their lessons.
The Bay Program recently launched a new "baybackpack" website, which provides information about education resources and where they can take students for field studies, as well as teacher training and funding opportunities.
The website was designed to help educators meet a goal set in the Chesapeake 2000 agreement that every student in the watershed have a "meaningful watershed experience" before graduating from high school.
Although some of the information was available before on the Bay Program website, it was sometimes difficult to find information and a survey found few teachers knew about it, said Mike Land, web administrator at the Bay Program.
The new site, in contrast, is dedicated entirely to education, and features information from states and or teachers to come to, Land said. "There's a lot of really great resources in the watershed."
A field studies link on the site takes teachers to information about opportunities to take classes outside. Other links provide a calendar of educator training programs and funding opportunities.
The site is designed to be easily searchable, and is frequently updated with new information, much of which is presented in a new blog on the site. Recent blog entries have covered such topics as how to create a schoolyard habitat, become an oyster gardener or explore the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
The site also provides information about resources that help educators learn how to weave environmental themes into their lessons, whether they teach art, math, social sciences, science or technology.
A social studies teacher, for instance, can find a lesson from The National Geographic Society website in which students examine the trade-offs between environmental and economic demands in protecting an estuary. In the technology section, a teacher will find lesson plans on stream restoration and learn where to get current information such as satellite images or streamflow data.
To help teachers find appropriate lessons and information, the site is searchable by subject, state and grade level. It is also designed so teachers can rate and provide comments on the value of lessons or information they use.
The website uses social networking tools such as twitter and Facebook to reach teachers and keep them up to date, as well as provide information about the Chesapeake Bay.
To visit the site, go to www.baybackpack.com.