Total School Immersion Pilot a Success

Grant Award Funds Week-Long Elachee in Your School Outreach Program

Thanks to a $5,000 grant award from Walton Electric Trust, Inc.’s Operation Round Up® 1,951 students at Craig Elementary, in Lawrenceville, kicked off the New Year enjoying a week of Elachee ecology programming. This grant fully-funded student program fees for a Kindergarten through 5th Grade (K-5) pilot outreach program: Elachee in Your School Environmental Immersion.

A team of 10 Elachee skilled instructors taught a five-day series of nature education classes, plus delivered a STEAM-night program! Each participating K-5 student at this Gwinnett County Public School benefited from grade-specific content meeting curriculum standards while complementing classroom instruction. Topics for Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd and 5th grades ranged from meteorology, geology, Georgia aquatic habitats, water resources and pollution to Georgia landforms, as 2nd and 4th graders visited the STARLAB portable planetarium.

Adapting Curriculum Proves Timely

“Our staff conferred with the Craig Elementary’s administration to determine what topics teachers were covering during the week of our visit,” explains Peter Gordon, Elachee Director of Education. “We reviewed the appropriate Gwinnett AKS standards for each grade level’s activities to allow our educators to custom-design programs for each grade level.”

Although some programs closely aligned with Elachee’s existing curriculum, Craig Elementary students benefited from some programs designed from scratch! One such program enhancement is the Nature Center’s Weather Alert! curriculum. 

First grade teachers across the state received Georgia Standards for Excellence (GSE) curriculum updates in September, impeding their ability to fully incorporate into lesson plans for the current school year. Elachee has seen a demand in recent months for a weather education program to supplement teacher instruction and materials in their classrooms. This grant-funded pilot program offered Elachee’s education team the ability to effectively modify and tailor the Nature Center’s existing Weather Alert! program to create a content-rich version for 1st grade – then immediately field-test with all 1st Grade students at Craig Elementary.

Elachee Naturalist Hannah Schrader recalls, “My favorite part of the weather program was seeing the students react to us making and releasing a cloud in the classroom. No two reactions were entirely alike!”

As a result of studying student outcomes via a multi-level assessment, Elachee’s education team now has a ‘new’ weather program available for field trips and outreaches. This will allow Elachee to meet the increased demand for this grade-specific, supplemental curriculum and the needs of 1st grade teachers throughout the region.

Additional Feedback Validates Pilot Program’s Success

“We enjoyed having the Elachee team here for the week,” shares Blair Binion, Craig Elementary Assistant Principal. “The teachers and students absolutely loved it!”

“I was very pleased with the presentation,” says Julie Weir, Craig Elementary 5th Grade Teacher. “All the content was in line with our 5th grade standards.”

Brittany Yancey comments that for her 4th graders the “content was perfect because it was interesting and an intro to our new unit.”

“I enjoyed watching the children’s faces when they began to understand how plants and trees create a natural filter to keep our lakes and rivers clean,” adds Elachee Naturalist Alison Thompson, who is also a former elementary school teacher.

“Fifth graders were amazed by the fact that Georgia once was located below the equator and that it took millions of years for the state to arrive at its current position on the globe,” says Elachee Naturalist Don Lane. “I heard a lot of ‘didn’t know that’ throughout the day.”

Elachee Naturalist Tori Short confides, “Seeing the students’ faces light up with awe honestly made me remember why I love science so much!”

Value of Elachee Outreach Programs

For schools unable to visit Elachee for field trips, PreK-12 Elachee in Your Classroom outreach programs are ideal options.

Each year, tens of thousands of school children and youth from dozens of Georgia school systems, private schools and home school programs, engage in memorable and meaningful educational experiences at Elachee. Additionally, Elachee breaks the barrier posed by challenges that prevent schools from visiting the Nature Center campus by taking its SACS/AdvancED-accredited STEAM-based environmental education to schools throughout the north Georgia region via the Elachee in Your Classroom outreach program.

Elachee has a proven Elachee in Your Classroom outreach model, consistently taking 12 popular ecology programs on the road to area schools. Thanks to the curriculum developed for and data gathered from this grant-funded pilot, Elachee can now offer a total school immersion outreach experience as part of its annual school programs menu starting with the 2019-2020 school year.

An Elachee in Your School outreach is most beneficial for school systems and individual schools that may find scheduling and transportation to be challenges preventing their teachers from booking field trips to the Nature Center. Elachee’s desired outcome in developing a school immersion experience and partnering with Walton Electric Trust, Inc. to pilot the program, is to introduce future participating schools to the benefits of the Nature Center’s innovative environmental education programming – and ultimately have their students visit Elachee on a field trip. After all, nothing beats hands-on learning in the great outdoors!

Book an Outreach Program or Field Trip

Invite us, and Elachee’s talented and travel-tested instructors will bring Georgia’s most extensive and exciting environmental education curriculum to your school! Transform your media center, gymnasium, classroom or an outdoor classroom with one of the popular Elachee in Your Classroom Outreach Programs.

Booking a field trip or outreach program is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Learn more about the 51 grade-specific programs available for your students, then submit a scheduling request to get started. Take advantage of the February discount for field trips to Elachee. Spring availability is filling up fast AND our registrar is already booking dates for next fall. 

As always, feel free to call us at 770-535-1976 to discuss ways the Elachee team can help science and nature come alive for your students!

Media Contacts:
Peter Gordon, Director of Education
Kim Marks, Director of Development and Communications