What is the STEM Literacy Project?
The Science Literacy Project educates communities through an innovative, multi-layered approach that encourages positive changes in citizen behavior toward STEM literacy, marine debris prevention and environmental stewardship. In partnership with the Manatee County School District, Nature’s Academy provides experiential lessons, an outdoor field trip, take-home teaching tools, extension lessons, litter cleanups, and even a reusable water bottle to set students on the right track towards STEM and environmental literacy.
According to the 2015 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT), 55% of Manatee fifth graders are failing science. Nature’s Academy and Manatee County Schools seek to improve this statistic through our STEM Literacy Project. In fact, studies show that 92% of students exposed to outdoor educational programs academically outperform peers from traditional classroom programs.
Through our STEM Literacy Project:
- We employ grants, donations and sponsorships to provide inquiry-driven, outdoor educational field trip programs to every 5th grade student in Manatee County, at no cost to them or their schools.
- Hands-on discovery activities educate students on the ecological, economical, and cultural significance of local estuaries and watersheds, while fostering environmental stewardship.
- Students serve as citizen scientists by collecting real biodiversity and water quality data through field tests and surveys. This data is uploaded to an online database, a regional citizen science collaboration with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) and other citizen scientists in Galveston, Texas.
- Participants remove litter from shorelines through coastal cleanups, helping to drive home the idea that we are all personally responsible for the environment.
- Teachers use Nature’s Academy designed lesson plans to bring their field trip experiences back in the classroom, allowing students to use the citizen science data they helped to collect to answer questions about the natural world. Students use what they have learned to create public service announcement style projects to teach peers, teachers, parents and other community members the importance of our natural resources.
Since 2009, Nature’s Academy has served the local community through the STEM Literacy Project, which:
- Delivered inquiry-driven field trip programs at no cost to public schools.
- Has educated over 11,000 local students on the importance of water quality and watershed ecology.
- Removed over 7,500 pounds of litter from local shorelines.
- Enhanced community STEM literacy, as on average 100% of schools show learning gains based on pre- and post-test data.
- Indirectly reached over 150,000 community members through school conservation projects.
Project Awards & Accolades
- Executive Director Dana Pounds was named a 2016 Daily Point of Light for her work with Nature’s Academy.
- Dana Pound and Nature’s Academy were featured on Bay News 9 as a part of their Everyday Hero series.
- For the 2015-16 school year, Nature’s Academy was named a NOAA Marine Debris Program partner and grant recipient.
- In the Fall of 2015, Nature’s Academy was featured in Guy Harvey Magazine.
- In 2015, Nature’s Academy was named the Volunteer of the Year by Keep Pinellas Beautiful
- In 2014, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and the School District of Manatee County named Nature’s Academy a District-wide Partner in Education
- The Florida Wildlife Federation honored Dana Pounds with the 2014 Conservation Educator Year Award
- 2014 Bradenton Marauder’s/Pirates Hero Among Us
- Out of many organizations in five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Nature’s Academy received the Third Place EPA Gulf Guardian Award in Youth Environmental Education.
- Honoring Dana’s services to the community, Manatee County proclaimed April 20, 2013, “Dana Pounds Day”.