Conference: Rec-reate, Re-create, at Itasca State Park, June 21-22, 2012.
The conference promises to be as interesting as in years past with its great variety of formal and informal environmental educators, practitioners, policy makers, and researchers. I'm particularly pleased to be presenting Downstream/Upstream at the headwaters of the Mississippi which is a central part of the project.
It has been said we need “a new story” of the earth and our place in it to move toward sustainability. The concept of interdependence is fundamental to sustainability, but hard to comprehend in a culture still designed around individual independence. This session presents an exploratory demonstration project and curriculum framework designed for experiential interconnection of children with their human and natural community. The framework centers on revealing interconnecting water infrastructure specific to a child’s experience. The approach is place-based and interdisciplinary --incorporating participatory public art and transformative journey design to make environmental content more personally meaningful. The demonstration project, Downstream/Upstream, took early childhood and Kindergarten classes on a two-week journey from their school through their urban water cycle, tracing a path of their sink-water from the Mississippi River, along upstream infrastructure to the faucet. The next week they traveled from their drain, along downstream infrastructure, arriving by boat to the outflow channel where their sink-water returns to the river. Children engaged with the journey through science, art, photography, music, movement, mosaics, water meter measurement, story-telling, utility representatives, and service projects. Preliminary results from pre/post-tests, observations, and feedback indicate the project was associated with increased awareness of nature-infrastructure interconnections, and increased sense of competency, curiosity, and identification as a water steward. The companion Pre-K/K-12/post-secondary curriculum framework, which outlines core elements and suggests adaptations by age group, will be downloadable at time of presentation. Format: slide presentation, video, participatory activities. Target audience: All-age school and program leaders .