In 2016, CCWS was awarded a $214,000 Bay-Watershed Education and Training program (NOAA B-WET) grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to fund a three-year pilot education program in Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). The program, called “Project STEM: Schoolyard Thermal Evaluation and Mitigation”, engages high school students in hand-on research and employs schoolyards as sites to assess the impacts of thermal pollution on local stream health. FCPS Foundation of Technology students are taught to assemble, calibrate, and deploy custom-designed temperature loggers, designed by the Hood Computer Science Department, for use in collecting temperature data around the schoolyard. FCPS Science students in turn also utilize the temperature loggers to track temperature data at local streams. The Science students also collect surface and air temperature data to determine if their schoolyard demonstrates any “heat-island” effects, and its impact on local stream health.
Spring 2017 marked the first semester the BWET-STEM program, which was implemented in one FOT and one Environmental Science class at Walkersville High School. Over fifty high-school students were involved with the program, learning about temperature impacts and heat-island effects from urbanization. Twenty-five loggers were built and deployed by students collecting the first set of data assessing their personal schoolyard in order to compare results to a reference site. A program specific website (ccwsscience.org) was developed allowing students to access the logger data for use in applicable lesson plans.
Two additional schools and up to four new teachers will be introduced to Project STEM over the remaining two-years of the program, expanding the reach of the grant. Oakdale High School has been selected as the Year 2 school. The Year 3 school is to be determined.
New teacher workshops are held in the summer for both science and FOT teachers participating in the program. Teachers are introduced to the HOOD temperature logger technology, existing program lessons and labs, and participate with summer logger deployment\retrieval in the field.