Program Assessment and Impacts

    Program Assessment and Impacts

    Bringing Kids and Teachers to Water

    USU Extension provides proven, high quality, water education programs to students and communities throughout Utah.

      Every Year :

    • 250+ Teachers are trained in high-quality water curricula
    • 14,000+ Students are reached by USU Extension programs and education centers
    • 50,000 People visit Utah's rivers, lakes, and wetlands through USU extension programs and education centers

    My Kids really loved our daily trips to the river. They learned much more than they would have from just lecture and testing."  -Feedback from a participating teacher

    Formal Evaluations of Water Extension Programs

    Study and development of Stream Side Science:

    As masters student at Utah State University, Andree Walker, met with Utah State Office of Education Science Curriculum Coordinator and teachers to figure out why teachers were not using a manual, Utah Stream Team. Through informal discussions with teachers it became clear there were a number of barriers limiting educators from use our educational manuals. Andree Walker evaluated and addressed these barriers in a study which led to the new Stream Side Science program. 

    Barriers educators commonly face How these barriers are minimized with Stream Side Science
    No focus on core curriculum Core curriculum alignment tables
    Teachers were not confident in water quality science Teacher trainings and workshops available through Water Quality Extension
    Teachers need specific lesson plans (not just background information)

    Specific lesson plans (includes background information)

    o    K-6th grade lessons

    o    5th-12th grade lessons

    Safety concerns on field trips Sampling Safety
    Limited funds We provide low to no cost workshops, cover costs of substitutes, and offer stipends
    Limited number of field trips The lessons are organized so you can use data from one field trip over multiple lesson plans.


    The Stream Side Science program, after rigorous development, was assessed by 9th grade students who were tested pre and post lessons. Based on the assessment, activities and lessons provided in the curriculum help students make the connection between water related topics and improve general understanding of related topics. This was increased when teachers covered multiple lessons.  

    Students also tested higher when teachers had higher interest in the subject of water. This is addressed by providing teacher workshops to improve background knowledge of watershed science, learn to use the lessons and tips to taking students out in the field. With background knowledge educators are better able to lead discussions using the questions provided in the lessons.  


    Assessment of short-term environmental programs:

    Tiffany Kinder, as masters student at Utah State University Department of Watershed Sciences, conducted an assessment of short-term environmental education program. This program, Natural Resources Field Days, incorporated Stream Side Science lessons. She found:

    • Short-term field experiences providing students with hands-on activities and opportunities to interact with and explore nature can significantly increase student knowledge and long-term retention (tested up to 8 months).
    • When enhanced with classroom lessons or a second field experience, the students showed a greater increase in knowledge and long-term retention.
    • Evidence of changes of attitudes of students about protecting streams.


    Kinder, Tiffany et al. 2015. Changes in Knowledge and Attitude from a Short-Term Aquatic Education Program. National Sciences Education. 44:18-25.

    Mesner, N. O., & Walker, A. D. (2007). Streamside Science tailoring watershed education to meet the needs of teachersJournal of soil and water conservation62(5), 104A-109A.

    Mesner, N. O. Stream Side Science: Hands-on Water Education that Makes a Difference. Northern Plains and Mountains Regional Water Program.

    Citizen Science Poster (Utah Water Watch)

    For more information contact us.

    Over 2,500 Utah educators (from 2000 to 2014) have attended high quality training at one- to two day workshops. An estimated 40% of these teachers use SSS in their teaching.

    Over 100,000 students (from 2002 to 2014) have increased their knowledge and awareness of water quality and water science through participation in Stream Side Science.

    What Educators are Saying:

    "This is stuff I can take back and use in my class. They lay it out so it is easy to locate information and resources."  -Workshop Participant

    "Best workshop I have been to in 20 years."   -Workshop Participant

    What Students are Saying:

    --Asked 4th graders how they would tell a friend about rivers or streams....

    "They're Fascinating"

    "There's cool animals there. There's cool stuff you can learn"

    --Asked 4th graders how being near a river makes them feel...

    "Free and happy because I can be myself."

    "Happy and I want to explore it."

    "Calm." "Refreshed." "Excited." "Amazed."