By guest blogger Alyssa Morones
A new initiative led by the grandson of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau seeks to reveal the thrill of scientific discovery and raise environmental awareness in young people through a series of videos and accompanying resources.
The new program from EarthEcho International, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, founded by Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., is designed to provide tools and interactive resources to help middle and high school students identify environmental challenges and work to solve them in their own communities.
This year, the program focuses on the Chesapeake Bay watershed—home to one of the world’s largest aquatic dead zones, or areas where marine life has been compromised by pollution.
In the six-part video series, Philippe Cousteau Jr. and his team explore everything from urban storm drains to the depths of the Chesapeake.
In addition to videos, educators can access other resources, many of which organizers say are designed to align with the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics, as well as a new set of common science standards developed by a coalition of 26 states and several national organizations. These resources help engage youth in a multi-platform, both through videos and supplementary materials and projects, investigation of the year’s subject matter.
They include a lesson plan that helps students develop their own photo essay to convey their experience with the curriculumn accompanying ecology lesson plan centered on oyster reefs. The lesson plan helps teachers instruct students about aquatic animals and their relationship to their environment, about food webs, and species diversity. It also focuses on helping students better understand the effects that their own interactions with the environment have on the ecosystem.
“That is our goal,” Mia DeMezza, the executive vice president of EarthEcho International, told me in a phone interview. “We hope that as a result of [this program], young people will take action in their communities and address issues related to dead zones.”
With 400 dead zones around the world, the problem is one that a wide array of communities deal with directly, but no community is immune from the effects these coastal plagues.
“No matter where you live, you live in a watershed,” said DeMezza. “Whether you’re in Maryland or Iowa, you’re connected to a body of water. All actions have consequences on a watershed. We want students to do something to improve those actions.”
Pictured above: Philippe Cousteau, Jr. and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau film a segment with middle school students who are participants in the Annapolis Maritime Museum Oyster Education Partnership and Environmental Literacy program.
Photo Credit: EarthEcho International
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.