SEA Current Programs
Bringing Learning to Life!
SEA’s Bringing Learning to Life program combines two main components to support a sustainable transformation of educational culture. These are:
Real-World Learning: Student community-based environmental learning programs, and
Transforming Systems: Includes professional development for teachers, training for community partners, and the facilitation of linkages between teachers and community-based organizations to create partnerships that deeply benefit students and the environment.
Real-World Learning: On Bringing Learning to Life (BLL) programs, students engage in community-based learning that links curricula to real-world problems. Local, place-based experiences introduce students to environmental and sustainability issues, employ STEM perspectives and project-based learning, cultivate 21st Century Skills and identify service opportunities. For young people to care about the Puget Sound environment, they need a relationship with it based on direct experience. Our programs increase young people’s sense of connection with this beautiful resource, and then expand into the issues and ways that we can make a difference. BLL expeditions invite students to be engaged learners and critical thinkers who can benefit their community while gaining valuable STEM skills.
A menu of BLL topics, guided by local priorities, can include stormwater runoff, community gardens, microplastics, watershed education, understanding sustainability and other topics. We work with both teachers and students to understand how these community-based experiences integrate STEM and could lead toward STEM career possibilities. Each student group doing an expedition can present a culminating presentation to community members, parents, and stakeholders. We support students in creating multimedia or other environmental education materials. Students might produce videos, create and distribute brochures, lead projects for elementary students, organize hands-on restoration activities, plan community education events, meet with elected officials or post projects on social networking sites.
Transforming Systems: SEA is appreciated by Puget Sound teachers and environmental organizations for the way we operate as a cultural ferryboat: SEA travels across systems to connect school and community stakeholders who otherwise would not find their way to each others’ territory. As part of the BLL program, SEA’s Co-Directors offer professional development trainings for teachers and representatives of community-based organizations. These trainings explore how to integrate meaningful community-based and project-based learning for students as well as develop sustainable, long-term collaborations.
SEA also provides pre-videos which teachers can use to help students prepare for the community learning experience, and post-videos to follow up on ways that real-world issues can be integrated into students’ classroom learning using project-based learning approaches. In contrast to a traditional model of community-based learning in which students have an isolated one-time field trip, the videos plus on-site follow-up maximize program impact by providing context pre-expedition and, later, meaningfully integrating the community experiences with curriculum and classroom project-based learning activities. SEA also plays a central role coordinating informal communities of practice for Puget Sound educators and community partners. The sharing of knowledge, skills and resources among participants energizes teachers, supporting sustainable community-based environmental learning.