First Advisor

Michael Flower

Date of Publication

Spring 6-12-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science


Science Teaching




Place-based education, Watershed management -- Study and teaching (Elementary), Science -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Science students -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (xiii, 126 pages)


This case study investigated the potential of a place-based watershed curriculum, using STEM principles, to increase watershed literacy and knowledge of human impacts on stormwater in the environment. A secondary goal was to examine whether the place-based connection and increased exposure to issues within their local watershed impacted the students' environmental attitudes and sense of place. Over 500 sixth graders participated in this localized curriculum, where they learned the science behind watershed issues on their own school campuses. They focused on ways humans can monitor and mitigate their impacts on stormwater, through engineering investigations. The mixed-method research study investigated the effectiveness of the OLWEDU curriculum, to address these key questions: 1) To what degree did the OLWEDU increase the students' combined watershed literacy? 2) To what extent did the OLWEDU affect their environmental attitudes? 3) How did using a STEM oriented and place-based curriculum make the learning more relevant? In order to provide a solid triangulation of data, this study used a quasi-experimental design format with multiple measures: a) A Pre-Posttest (PPT), was given to all of the students to gather quantitative changes in knowledge of watershed concepts, stormwater issues related to human impacts on the environment, and engineering techniques; b) A constructed-knowledge questionnaire (CKQ) was used with forty four of the participants, to gather additional quantitative data on the students' local watershed knowledge; c) an environmental attitudes survey (EAS) was included in this sub-sample group; d) interviews were conducted with ten of the students to examine their opinions on the STEM aspects of the curriculum in addition to the place-based connections between the unit and their community. The statistically significant results showed increases in overall watershed literacy, knowledge of human impacts on stormwater, engineering principles, and environmental attitudes. These findings will be used to improve the current curriculum, and have broader implications concerning the benefits of using a formalized middle-school 21st century standards-based curriculum to teach watershed literacy and promote pro-environmental attitudes by using a combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in a local, place-based context.


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