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NOAA Watershed Institute

  • Headwaters to Estuaries

    Headwaters to Estuaries: Enhancing Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences with Immersive Technology

    Saint Francis University has partnered with teachers and students in Bedford Area, Chestnut Ridge, Harmony Area, and Hollidaysburg Area school districts to provide meaningful watershed educational  experiences (MWEEs) using stormwater best management practices (BMPs) as an organizing principle to engage students. Using technology, such as 360 degree cameras, the program will explore ways that watershed education can be immersive.

    Explore this underwater photograph taken from video footage by institute participants! 

    Stormwater Runoff and the Chesapeake Bay

    Stormwater runoff caries pollutants from the headwaters (where SFU and our partnering school districts are located) to the estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. It also causes flooding and erosive loss of land and structures. Fortunately, scientists and engineers have developed highly effective ways of mitigating stormwater runoff known collectively as stormwater best management practices. In this project we use the stormwater BMP as an organizing principle to engage middle school students in a very visual and critically important environmental issue. Because stormwater is in everyone’s backyard, students will have ready access to hands-on field work near their school and because many stormwater BMPs are low-tech, students will be able to translate their study directly into action projects that help improve the local environment. 

    Primary Goals and Objectives:

    Systemic MWEE Implementation is prioritized with the goals of

    1. conducting a Watershed Institute for teacher professional development
    2. developing immersive and interdisciplinary watershed curriculum units (MWEEs)
    3. providing academic year support for field work and MWEE delivery
    4. organizing culminating activities including:
      1. Student-led BMP design and implementation
      2. a regional Watershed Festival

    Overall the project is anticipated to reach more than 1,100 students in grades 3-12 and 24 teachers.

    For more information please email to or call: 814-472-3878.

    Register Today!

    Teachers from Bedford Area, Chestnut Ridge, Harmony Area, and Hollidaysburg Area school districts interested in participating in the 2020-2021 Watershed Institute can sign up here: Do not see your school listed? Contact us to see how we may be able to collaborate.


  • What are MWEEs?

    MWEE Promotional Video from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

    MWEE is an acronym for Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience

    MWEEs are multi-stage, activities that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom, and aim to increase the environmental literacy of all participants.

    For example: Learning the effect of water runoff in the Appalachian Mountains on marine life in the (may be approached from many angles: historical floods, statistics, testing of soil, topographic maps, pervious vs. impervious surfaces).

    Learn more:

    What is B-WET?

    The NOAA Bay Watershed and Training program is an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, authentic experiential learning focused on K–12 audiences.

    B-WET is a national program serving seven areas of the country: California, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawai'i, New England, and the Pacific Northwest. 

    Chesapeake Bay is our regional program

    Learn more:


    Who can participate?

    This program is open to teachers (grade 3 and above), staff, administration – anyone who is interested in environmental literacy.

    This program is interdisciplinary. It is not limited to just science teachers - all disciplines are welcome to attend. 

    This unique program is currently only available to Bedford Area, Chestnut Ridge, Hollidaysburg Area, and Harmony school districts (and once the B-WET program has worked with a school district, it cannot do so again with this type of grant)

    What are the benefits?
    • Knowledge of BMPs in Chesapeake Bay and in our region specifically is priceless!
    • Act-48  
      • Stipend
        • Travel reimbursement  
          • School Supplies
            • Examples:
              • consumable instructional supplies for making models and class materials
              • plants, seeds, or other gardening materials for use in BMP implementation 
              • water testing supplies and equipment
              • nonfiction texts related to watersheds 
              • field trip supplies for teachers and students (waders, nets, binoculars, field notebooks)
          • Equipment (at least one of each per district; depends on school/district needs and technical requirements)
            • Do It Yourself Dome (materials, mirror,  projector)
            • Apple iPad, for creating presentations in the dome
            • 360° HD Video Camera with traveling case and tripod, for video capturing of the surroundings during field trips
          What are the requirements?

          Lead Teachers

          1. Participate in professional development
            1. Develop and implement curriculum units (MWEEs in classrooms during the academic year
            2. Identify and work with at least one extension teacher
              1. Assist with integrating learning units in the classes of the extension teachers
              2. Guide and support the efforts of the extension teacher

            Extension Teachers

            1. Will not participate in professional development
            2. Will help with integration of MWEEs in their classroom and the classrooms of the lead teachers.
            3. The extension teachers may be those teachers who do not have strong knowledge about the BMPs and would like to learn about the BMPs more from their colleagues before committing more time to their professional development.  
            What is the schedule?

            Watershed Institute and Workshops Schedule 2020-2021

            • Due to the pandemic, the Science Outreach Center is working with each district individually to schedule times that suit for programming.

            Spring Webinar Series

            Virtual Watershed Festival

            • May 2021
          2. NOAA Watershed Institute & Festival Photo Gallery