Godfrey G, LaPlaca SB, Heintz MM. 2022. Developing young watershed citizen scientists through professional partnerships in the classroom. Am Biol Teacher 84(4):202–206, doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2022.84.4.202
What’s in Our Waters Jr. (WOW Jr.) is an environmental outreach program designed to teach fourth grade elementary students about watershed protection. This program is unique because of the partnership that brings together students, teachers, scientists, and water resource professionals to promote science education and environmental stewardship in the classroom through mentorship and hands-on learning activities. WOW Jr. is co-led by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service (4-H Youth Development and Water Resources Programs) and Clemson University Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program. The major themes covered in WOW Jr. are watersheds, water pollution, and water conservation and protection. The curriculum is designed to help teachers meet several South Carolina academic standards for fourth grade science. Pre- and post-surveys administered to students to assess program effectiveness and progress over time show that engagement with science professionals increases achievement of state standards and knowledge of watershed protection by environmental stewardship, and it alters students’ perceptions of scientists.