The Prairie Science Class, a partnership between Independent School District 544 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), uses a local prairie wetlands ecosystem as an integrating and motivating context to engage fifth-grade students in science, math, and writing through real world, field-based learning experiences. This article describes the Prairie Science Class and a research base for this educational approach. A program evaluation was conducted during the first year of its implementation with results suggesting positive cognitive and affective outcomes. The Prairie Science Class illustrates how one NWRS site has transitioned from providing traditional one-time, awareness-building programs for school groups to an in-depth program where middle school students attend school daily at this NWRS site. We encourage discussion regarding the way environmental education is approached within the NWRS and other natural resource management agencies.
- Environmental education
- National Wildlife Refuge System
- Program evaluation
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service