The goal of the Stream Side Science program is to promote and provide effective education about watershed functions and water-quality issues for all ages; students and educators. The program uses lesson plans along with hands-on stream exploration techniques to achieve this goal.
Stream Side Science directly engages participants through monitoring, observations, and simple analysis of local data. Participants are encouraged to become stewards of their local watersheds through service and community outreach projects. Although most teachers and leaders take kids outside, when that is not possible, the lessons are easily adapted to bring samples from streams and lakes to the classroom.
Lesson plans are designed with the needs of educators in mind:
- Each lesson plan is formatted for easy use, providing clear instructions and explanations for teachers.
- All lessons are aligned to national and state science standards
- All curricula and additional materials are available online or by request, and all materials needed for the lessons are inexpensive and easy to obtain or build.
- Discussion questions are provided for each lesson plan to give "talking points".
- STEM connections are explicitly provided, with tips on graphing, simple statistics and other math exercises provided throughout the Stream Side Science manual.
- Watershed specific materials have been developed in Utah for the Jordan River and the Bear River watersheds. Similar watershed specific materials are being developed as Stream Side Science adapts.
Stream Side Science originated at Utah State University (USU) as a set of lesson plans for ninth graders, developed by USU in collaboration with the Utah State Office of Education and Utah Governor Walker's Watershed Initiative. Since then the program has expanded to include lessons for all ages; training for formal and informal educators; use in education courses; adaptation for field days, citizen monitors, and other outreach efforts. The program has been used throughout Utah as well as in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado and has been the recipient of several awards.
All our lessons are reviewed by scientists, policy makers, and other content specialists to assure that they are scientifically accurate and unbiased. Educators and curriculum specialists then review the materials for appropriate pedagogy. All lessons are "field tested" with teachers who provide additional feedback. Formal evaluations of these activities demonstrate significant increases in student knowledge and changes in student attitudes about protecting the environment.
2013 Environmental Education Program of the Year for Bear River Celebration (Team award for USU Water Quality Extension (Nancy Mesner and Tiffany Kinder), Logan City (Emily Malik) and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Marni Lee).
2010 Project of Excellence, USDA National Water Program for Stream Side Science, Hands on Water Education. (with Adam Sigler of MSU, Suzanne Carrithers of USGS, Andree Walker Bravo of USEE.)
2005 Gold Medal in long publications for Stream Side Science. Association of Natural Resource Extension Specialists.
2004 Utah Watershed Improvement Award. Presented by Governor Olene Walker at the Governor's mansion.
Mesner, N. O. Stream Side Science: Hands-on Water Edcuation that Makes a Difference. Northern Plains and Mountains Regional Water Program.
Mesner, N. O. and A. D. Walker. 2007. Streamside Science tailoring watershed education to meet the needs of teachers. Journal of soil and water conservation. 62(5):104A-109A.
Kinder, Tiffany et al. 2015. Changes in Knowledge and Attitude from a Short-Term Aquatic Education Program. National Sciences Education. 44:18-25.