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Puddles to Floods: Learning to “Read” Flood-Prone Landscapes of the Lower Mississippi River

Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) is a co-lead in one of six projects funded by the Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that engage underserved children and youth in place-based educational activities.

The $224,000 project is titled Puddles to Floods: Learning to ‘Read’ Flood-Prone Landscapes of the Lower Mississippi River. Claire Anderson, executive director of the New Orleans-based Ripple Effect Water Literacy Project, is principal investigator. Dani DiIullo, LSG education director, is co-principal investigator.

Through a two-part learning journey, upper elementary and middle school students will build their understanding of the scientific and social dimensions of flooding through investigations centered on two sites — their schoolyards, and an off-campus flood control location in Southeast Louisiana.

“Understanding flooding is critical for all residents in Louisiana — whether the flooding comes from the river, the sky or the Gulf,” said DiIullo. “Having the students explore their local vulnerability and then participate in field trips that show flood control or mitigation will help make this education tangible and relevant. All the partners are excited to share these experiences with the students.”

“Puddles to Floods is designed to support a more seamless ‘handoff’ between the teacher and field-based environmental educator, where student learning begins in the schoolyard and gradually ramps up to field-based excursion that is co-led by a teacher and informal environmental educator,” said Anderson. “Through this model, we are not only building teachers’ capacity to integrate field-based investigations into their everyday science teaching, we are also providing students with a deeper learning experience that blurs the boundary between their classroom and the ‘real world’, all while methodically building specific knowledge and skills that we know are fundamental to student science achievement.

The project will begin January 2023 first with the teachers. Work with students is set to begin at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.