The Chesapeake Bay Program today launched Bay Backpack, an online resource for teachers and environmental educators to engage students in hands-on learning about the Chesapeake Bay and its local waterways. Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen and officials with the Maryland State Department of Education helped officially launch Bay Backpack at an event today at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.
Teachers can use Bay Backpack to search by subject, location and grade level for books, lesson plans, curriculum guides and other materials to support their classroom studies. Bay Backpack includes an interactive map that teachers can use to find outdoor educational programs in their communities. A training calendar lists professional development opportunities that help educators build confidence to teach about environmental topics. Bay Backpack also lists funding programs that provide the often-missing piece to support environmental education, including field trips and projects such as schoolyard habitats.
Additionally, Bay Backpack uses a blog to feature new education initiatives and in-depth resources, such as ideas for classroom projects. Educators can share information with each other on the blog by leaving comments or writing guest entries about their own environmental education programs.
“One of the most critical components of Chesapeake Bay restoration is educating the next generation of environmental stewards,“ said Chesapeake Bay Program Director Jeffrey Lape. “Bay Backpack is a vital resource that will give educators the tools they need to teach young people about the Chesapeake Bay and its local streams, rivers and runs.”
Bay Backpack provides educators with the necessary resources to give their students a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE), which are extensive projects that allow students to gain a deep understanding of environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay and its local streams and rivers. Chesapeake Bay Program partners work with state and local education departments to ensure that all students in the Chesapeake Bay watershed receive three MWEEs before they graduate from high school.