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Education and Outreach

Environmental STEM Education

In 2016, with seed monies from the U.S. Geological Survey 104b program, the WVWRI launched an environmental education and research program with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Over the past year, an interdisciplinary team of researchers and students from WVU has worked with WVWRI staff and the BSA to install a network of research equipment to study the climate and ecological makeup of the Summit Bechtel Reserve. The research forms the basis of a unique interactive curriculum that engages the scouts through E-STEM activities. The West Virginia Outdoor Learning Lab introduces both boy and girl scouts to the world of environmental science, technology, engineering, and math (E-STEM). The lab includes a series of fun hands-on outdoor activities centered on the Reserve. The scouts use observational skills, critical thinking and modern technology to take measurements, enter data, and plot simple graphs to see the results. Over 1,500 scouts participated in the program during the 2017 Jamboree in July. We have most recently launched a K-12 field trip at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Students working on the ground doing water quality assignment.

3RQ REACH 4Schools

3RQ REACH 4Schools (R4S) is an educational framework that engages students from grades 6 through university level in monitoring water quality within the Allegheny, Monongahela, and upper Ohio River Basins. Middle and high school students who participate in the project become involved by collecting data, either continuous by deploying data loggers, and/or discrete by obtaining physical samples for chemical analysis. Educators can use the data collected to teach their students in many ways and on many topics, such as general water quality, water chemistry, and chemistry as it relates to biology, aquatic biology, water sampling, environmental principles, ecology, data analysis, data entry, and database management.

3RQ launched REACH 4Schools (R4S) as a full program in mid-2017 with a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Education Grants Program. R4S will thus be engaged in six schools in western Pennsylvania for two academic years with this funding. More funding is being sought to increase the number of participating schools.

Ongoing support from 3RQ for participating R4S schools provides:

  • ideas to the school on how to integrate R4S activity into current curricula or after school programs
  • partial reimbursement of transportation for 6 trips to and from a school’s sample site
  • the use of a Platypus robotic boat at least once/year
  • ability to share data between schools
  • a 4-part lecture series (EDTalks) on Stream Integrity designed specifically for middle to high schools students

3RQ also hosts a water quality research conference for students to present their water quality projects and/or research, and to network with other students doing the same.