Through December 2009, collaborating organizations will compile and create resources that support teacher and student progression through a research-based approach to service-learning, and create lesson plans that model opportunities for student-led service experiences. During this period, the supporting technology infrastructure will be built, which will deliver resources to foster students' knowledge of critical ocean issues;, support students as they identify, implement, and communicate about their process and projects; and measure collective impact of service projects via specific metrics.
The Water Planet Challenge launched in January 2010. From that point on, the following activities will occur on an on-going basis: students and their teachers will choose from among the model service-learning lesson plans provided-or customize their own-and register online. Once registered, they will use the provided tools to create media-rich profiles that document their service projects. During the course of implementation, students will have access to a growing body of resources that support on-going learning in ocean science, leadership, and communications; will share best practices; will be given tools to communicate their success; and may apply for mini grants to further their projects' reach. Teachers will have access to professional development tools, including service-learning lesson plan templates and webinars.
One of the revolutionary attributes of this effort is that it will track the collective impact of all registered service-learning projects across common outcomes-based metrics. The metrics tracked will cross-cut environmental and social issues and will be updated continuously to meet the data collection/evaluation needs of participating projects, which will provide the foundation for the program's evaluation.
Every January, EarthEcho will reflect back on the accomplishments of those participating in the Challenge and publish a summary report of the previous year's collective impact and highlights. Outstanding projects will be given additional visibility through Discovery, America's Promise Alliance, and other partners' networks.
As defining issues in the 21st century, the health of both salt and fresh water systems will increasingly take center stage. As the primary driver of our climate, oceans have a huge role in regulating the abundance and dispersion of fresh water resources. Oceans are also the primary protein source for almost 2 billion people and rising, plus the source of a wealth of other resources for economies worldwide. For example, 50% GDP in the United States comes from coastal counties.
Service-learning-a proven education strategy that integrates classroom academics and reflection with purposeful social action to enrich the learning experience, embed civic responsibility, and strengthen communities-is now utilized and expanding in schools nationwide and internationally. Though the natural environment is a leading interest of students currently participating in service-learning experiences, water and ocean-related models and guidelines are frightfully lacking. Today's textbooks have not yet caught up with today's science. Many teachers are hungry for timely, high-quality content on the environment and the oceans, and students are looking for opportunities to apply what they're learning to real-world experiences. On a recent search of projects on www.servicelearning.org-the nation's most comprehensive listing of service-learning projects-there were two ocean-related project examples, and less than two dozen that focused on water.
Our recent acceptance as a member of the America's Promise Alliance and a presenter at the National Youth Service Learning Conference introduced us to leading professionals working in the field of service-learning, who confirm interest in and a need for models-for both teachers and students-of successful service-learning projects that address various ocean and water-related issues. Indeed, engaging students through service-learning is increasingly seen as a national imperative to mitigate alarmingly high rates of students dropping out of schools in America. EarthEcho International is able to respond with high-quality opportunities to reach and inspire youth to action, thanks to the development of innovative partnerships with the leading education distributors, technology providers, and curriculum development organizations in the country.
SEEKING: financial assistance, implementing partners, media and marketing opportunities. Partnerships have proved a very valuable part of the development of this program. We are continuing to develop partnerships with corporate entities which are interested in reaching our audience of millions of middle and high school age youth; foundations that focus on youth education and environmental conservation; and individuals who share those concerns as well.
OFFERING: implementing partnership, best practice information. Through our commitment, we have the opportunity to reach millions of middle and high school youth to engage them in service activities that improve the health of the environment. Reaching such a broad audience has taken years of relationship building and we are well positioned to act as a convener and unite organizations with resources and knowledge about how to solve environmental challenges, including those related to social problems, with millions of activated and willing youth across the country.