At REALMS, we have designed a three-year progression of STEAM curriculum focused on sustainability education. The curriculum is interdisciplinary and project based, and weaves together classroom based learning with purposeful, hands on fieldwork, and partnerships with local agencies and industries.
We call the project: Students STEAMing Towards Sustainability (SSTS)
Students STEAMing Towards Sustainability is a project that engages students at REALMS in a three-year progression of sustainability education focused on investigating and addressing real life issues connected to nearby forests, streams and farm/food related sites. The natural connections between Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) are leveraged as students build environmental literacy skills, develop an ethic of stewardship, and at the same time develop strong and important academic skills in context. Each grade level focuses on a different local ecosystem and sustainability challenge described below.
STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math
6th Grade - NOURISH: GLOBAL & LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS
What power do I have to change environmental issues? Why is it so hard to eat “right”? Why do our food choices matter?
Are bananas good for us, and the planet?
6th graders spend their spring semester exploring topics related to local and global food systems with a focus on sustainabilty. Through classroom and field-based investigations, students weave together the STEAM disciplines, build strong literacy skills, and experience hands on practices as they connect with local food sources and growers, both in our own campus garden and in conjunction with regional growers.
7th Grade - HEALTHY FORESTS: RYAN RANCH RESTORATION
How do you know if an ecosystem healthy? What do you measure? Why are healthy forests important to humans and the environment?
REALMS 7th graders pursue classroom and field-based studies organized around the collection, analysis, display, and interpretation of data from sampling plots along the forest-meadow ecotone in Ryan Ranch Meadow on the banks of the Deschutes River. Math, science, art and literacy come together as teachers and students collaborate with local agencies to examine the guiding questions above and analyze potential impact of a wetland restoration project in the meadow bordering the forest. Students share their answers with community members including experts from the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.
8th Grade - TUMALO CREEK: WATER, SALMON & CARBON
What is anthropogenic climate change and how does it matter? How many trees or how much forest is needed to offset the carbon emitted in our everyday choices? Is Tumalo Creek healthy? How do you measure the health of a stream and what does a healthy stream look like?
During the Fall semester REALMS stduents tackle the guiding questions above through an inter-disciplinary investigation that bridges all the STEAM disciplines. Students gain a solid understanding of fish ecology, water quality parameters, and ecological functioning of riparian and river systems. Throughout the Tumalo Creek project, students are interacting with professionals and being scientists themselves; they are collecting and analyzing data that is shared with the USFS and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, and they are developing a sense of service and an understanding of the importance and challenges that come with field science and with being stewards of public resources.