Best Project WET Activities for Outdoor Learning: Part One
Note: Most of the activities below can be found in the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, which is available through your local Coordinator. However, some are from other educator guides for sale on the Project WET store in hard copy or download. Activities that can be directly purchased are linked in the text.
Learning outdoors benefits students and educators, which is why we want to help educators get out! Here's the first set of Project WET's best outdoor activities, as chosen by Project WET USA Coordinators and Project WET Foundation staff:
Nominated by six people, Macroinvertebrate Mayhem is the perennial favorite tag game that simulates the effect of environmental stressors on macroinvertebrate populations. Drew Hopkins from New York says it gets the highest reviews from educators he trains, while Colorado’s Scott Williamson says it was “a hit for educators at our most recent training because it got everyone moving their whole bodies and folks were having fun with a little friendly competition.” Macro Mayhem is also the favorite of Project WET SVP and Chief Operating Officer John Etgen, who says with a wink that it has “nothing to do” with his love for fishing.
Related Activities Also Nominated:
Project WET Ohio’s Dennis Clement says that Water Quality? Ask the Bugs! and Benthic Bugs and Bioassessment (Healthy Water, Healthy People) “get kids in the stream collecting macros and assessing the water quality.” Invaders! also gets high marks for keeping kids very active, according to Pennsylvania’s Carissa Longo.
Just Passing Through
In second place among respondents was Just Passing Through, a whole-body activity that allows students to investigate how vegetation affects the movement of water over land surfaces. Sue Quincy says the activity works well “especially if there is a natural hill,” which makes it perfect for her home state of Connecticut.
Related Activities Also Nominated:
Get the Groundwater Picture introduces students to how water moves through soil. Carrie Merson of the San Antonio River Authority mentioned The Thunderstorm, The Incredible Journey, Drop in the Bucket, H2Olympics, Blue Planet and Seeing Watersheds as ideal activities for students on field trips, because they “are thought provoking as well as require movement.”
Rainy Day Hike
Several Coordinators and staff identified Rainy Day Hike, which introduces urban watershed concepts and stormwater issues through outdoor investigations, as a good option, especially for teachers who many not have done much outdoor learning. Day Hike. Maryland’s Cindy Etgen says she uses it to encourage educators to use state parks as outdoor classrooms for their students. “We will have them do Rainy Day Hike Part I, discuss Part II, and then ask them what differences their students would see if they did the lesson first at a park, and then on their school grounds. And usually there are a lot.”
Related Activities Also Nominated
Cindy says she pairs Rainy Day Hike with Rain Garden: “After doing Rainy Day Hike, we use Rain Garden to have them discuss problems they might find on their school grounds that would have an impact on water quality and what the students might be able to do to help fix the problem.” Tomi Bergstrom of West Virginia says that she uses Blue River, “usually after doing Seeing Watersheds inside”.
Stay tuned for Part 2—coming soon! In the meantime, if you have questions about how best to bring the outdoors to your students, feel free to contact your local Coordinator or Project WET staff.