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In order to combat environmental illiteracy and apathy, the Bioma program makes use of engaging hands-on activities, such as building a shrimp hatchery or surveying macro-invertebrate densities in a stream, rather than focusing on conventional lectures or textbook learning. We decided early on that the educational program throughout our schools should not involve our direct oversight, but rather allow local autonomy for students and teachers to incorporate local elements and choose how they would learn. By doing so, the program was able to nurture the students’ innate creativity and sense of responsibility, something that the rote memorization approach that characterizes many classrooms today would not have encouraged. The success of this approach can be seen in the student’s proactive approach towards designing and running their own projects; the fundraising, youth fishing programs, and stream surveys were all conceived and run by program graduates. The Bioma curriculum was designed to facilitate genuine interest and curiosity in material. Instead of quizzes and textbook readings, the Bioma approach encouraged classroom discussion, hands-on learning, and student autonomy. At environmental expos, the group held live demos of critters under microscopes and created a touch tank stocked with native species instead of a conventional powerpoint, while in classrooms, students are encouraged to build and shape things with their hands, something that most Bioma teachers have never recalled doing often in past courses. Through Bioma’s technical workshops, such as the virtual reality or disasters simulation project, students can craft and create their own projects based on interesting things they can discover, leading to an innate curiosity and better retention of the knowledge that will serve them for years to come.
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This project will allow students to examine wasted rain water locations on campus, research options to improve the use of this wasted water, as well as, design and implement functional environmental friendly solution on campus. Students will improve our garden experience by designing landscapes that harvest this excess rainwater.
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This project will show students the engineering principles involved with flood control, screening for containments in water, and help students develop models to educate others in the community. The portable units can be used for student presentations at Douglas and Sarpy county events, serve as state exhibits, and be used in the 2019 Grades of Green Global Watewr Challenge to educate others internationally. The students will manage their own ecosystems they create plus contribute plant by products for the community programs of pollinator habitat creation and food security to the shelters.
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We will use microscopes and books to ask questions about the water and land we already know. Each of us will ask different questions so we may each get different ideas or answers from the project. That is good!
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Students will venture to Mt. Hood to investigate the timberline ecosystem at 6,000 feet beginning this school year. The Mt. Hood wilderness provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the subalpine habitat. Our alpine ecology curriculum will focus on seasonal changes in a high mountain environment. Students summarize as teams, comparing and contrasting as an entry level opportunity for an introduction to climate change. Snow crystal studies, measurement of snow depth, temperature and wind speed, adaptations of alpine plants and animals, hibernation and the relationship between alpine birds and trees are some investigations students will participate in to build background knowledge of the area. They will observe how these variations can affect organisms that thrive in the subalpine habitat. The learner will connect to concrete observations and explain as scientists would through mapping, data collection and journaling. They will summarize as teams, comparing and contrasting data to create possible explanations of how environmental conditions influence the organisms that live in the ecological area. Students will measure snowpack and it’s relationship to the budding of Mountain hemlock trees. They'll research the impact of drought, bark beetle infestation, and blight on Whitebark pines. They will investigate the symbiotic relationship between the Clark's nutcrackers to Whitebark pines. Students are partnering with the National Park Service. This program will be on-going for years. As students begin to collect data, they will compare information/data from other National Parks and move toward solutions to preserve and protect this ecosystem.
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Students will venture to Mt. Hood to investigate the timberline ecosystem at 6,000 feet beginning this school year. The Mt. Hood wilderness provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the subalpine habitat. Our alpine ecology curriculum will focus on seasonal changes in a high mountain environment. Students summarize as teams, comparing and contrasting as an entry level opportunity for an introduction to climate change. Snow crystal studies, measurement of snow depth, temperature and wind speed, adaptations of alpine plants and animals, hibernation and the relationship between alpine birds and trees are some investigations students will participate in to build background knowledge of the area. They will observe how these variations can affect organisms that thrive in the subalpine habitat. The learner will connect to concrete observations and explain as scientists would through mapping, data collection and journaling. They will summarize as teams, comparing and contrasting data to create possible explanations of how environmental conditions influence the organisms that live in the ecological area. Students will measure snowpack and the budding of Mountain hemlock that support the Clark’s nutcrackers. They'll research the impact of Whitebark pines due to drought, bark beetle infestation, and blight. Students are partnering with the National Parks. This program will be on-going for years. As students begin to collect data, they will compare information/data from other National Parks and move toward solutions to preserve and protect this ecosystem.
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At bare minimum, the project will prove successful if local youth gain service-learning hours for installing the conservation garden in ways that spark meaningful prior Green School PTSA memorializing conversation and reflection. This success indicator is very reachable being that The Natural Roots Project’s (NRP’s) partner-organization, The Empowerment Center of Maryland, Inc, has agreed to both: a) host youth-preparatory sessions at their facility, and b) provide the 501c3 criteria necessary to grant service-learning credit. Furthermore, many Cherry Hill plot holders are elderly retirees, accustomed to seeing mainly food planted at their location. Thus, the conservation garden is likely to spark much curiosity, inquiry and conversation. The process of garden installation and community response will be documented via a youth coordinated video montage and short feedback surveys respectively.
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This garden will receive 8 raised beds, placed into the orchard garden. We will teach students to build the raised beds, install drip irrigation, seed crops. Students will learn to compost as we install a compost bin, cultivate the crops and the fruit trees. Students will learn abut water schedule, thinning seedlings, grow harvest to prepare a wholesome meal.
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We will collect food scraps from campus, process them in a three-bin system and turn the food scraps into compost over a three month period. We will be diverting food scraps from the landfill and utilizing the developed compost in our garden.
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We will organize community cleanups every other week, river cleanups when needed, and tree planting events when needed and allowed to by the city! We will gather volunteers, advertise often and effectively, and form community bonds and friendships all while defending our dear environment.

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