BRIT’s mission links global issues to local experience through programs devoted to educating the public about the importance of plants in the environment and the pivotal role they play in our life and the health of the planet. In that regard, the organization’s educational goals are as follows:
- to support BRIT’s mission through developing opportunities for learning that promote use and interpretation of botanical research and BRIT’s scientific collections
- to provide public outreach that deepens relationships to the natural world and supports informed conservation choices
- to be a primary resource center for quality, research-based professional development and educational resources that model processes and provide tools to support environmental learning
- to spark childlike curiosity and critical thinking through experiential learning that connects individuals intellectually, physically, and emotionally to the natural world and challenges them to be responsible decision makers
How BRIT’s Education Group is structured
Under the leadership of Pat Harrison, Director of Education, BRIT’s Education program has two primary outreach programs: Public Programs that serves children and adult learners and The BRIT SEED School supporting K-12 educators.
Public Programs include the following:
- Family Programs
- Summer Camps for elementary and middle school students
- Story-time for preschool children
- Adult Education including
- Distinguished Lecturer Series
- 4:30 Forum
- Continuing Education Classes
- Community Events
The SEED School
Through an endowment from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation to honor the work of Suzanne Rall Peacock, BRIT formed in 2010 The BRIT SEED (Science-based Experiential Education Design) School, designed to connect children to nature by inspiring and supporting K-12 educators to utilize outdoor classrooms, nature, and urban environments for learning. Embracing a “sense of place” philosophy, The BRIT SEED School utilizes hands-on, real-world learning experiences.
Current BRIT educational projects
Camp BRIT is our brand new summer camp program for kids scheduled to begin in June 2011. Campers will be challenged to think like scientists as they explore their natural environment through active play and inquiry learning. BRIT is partnering with our neighbors, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, to offer children a full-day camp experience where campers spend the mornings at the Botanic Garden and their afternoon at BRIT.
Bella’s Story Time is an inaugural event designed for preschool development levels. Beginning in June, it will be held the first and third Tuesday mornings of every month. These hour-long programs allow children to learn side-by-side with their adult partner (parent, grandparent, guardian). Bella’s Story Time will start at 10:30 a.m. in the Burk Children’s Library.
4:30 Forum is the new name for BRIT’s popular public lecture series. We will continue the tradition of having quality speakers talk about innovative and exciting research, ideas, programs, and people. The 4:30 Forum will be held the second Wednesday of select months at 4:30 p.m. in the Commons Room.
Family Saturdays will enable families to come to BRIT one Saturday a month to learn side-by-side about the natural history of our region: past, present, and future. With a new theme each month, Family Saturdays provide opportunities for families to view BRIT as a resource and a great way to learn and have fun together.
Public Tours, guided by a docent, are available Monday-Friday at 1:30 p.m. and will include behind-the-scenes views of our library, classrooms, and herbarium. Private tours will also be available but must be scheduled in advance.
Professional Development Science Workshops for K-12 Educators
Workshops align with state standards (TEKS) and emphasize deep science content, inquiry and sense of place approaches to learning. Workshop fees range from $20 to $30. This fee includes resource packets, CPE credits, and meals. Workshop topics include, but are not limited to the following: Seeds of Inquiry, Tools for Schoolyard Inquiry, Catching the Science STAAR with Outdoor Inquiry, Connecting the TEKS to the Watershed, and Home on the Range.
Professional Development Inclusive Education Workshops
To support teachers and pre-service teachers in creating inclusive indoor and outdoor classroom environments for all students, The BRIT SEED School will host a multicultural round table series. This series is free of charge, and we are hoping to provide CPE credits to participants. Readings will be available on-line and in the TRC one month before each round table. Teachers will participate in an interactive presentation and discussion sharing experiences and ideas. Examples of topics include reducing the gender gap in science testing: techniques for inspiring girls to actively participate in science; techniques for creating inclusive indoor and outdoor classrooms for all students; and language code-switching to a more inclusive classroom.
Teacher Resource Center
Within the Teacher Resource Center (TRC) located in the Suzanne Rall Peacock Education Center, teachers will find a collection of teaching guides and children’s books, science kits, and scientific equipment which teachers can borrow, take, and use for personal and classroom enrichment at no cost other than a deposit on the materials. The TRC will be open from 3p.m. - 5p.m. Monday through Friday and until 8p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of every month (Teacher Tuesdays). Educators are encouraged to explore the TRC resources, relax, grade papers, and network with colleagues.
The first Teacher Tuesday will be September 6th. On this date we will host a wine and cheese event to promote the TRC.
Each semester, the TRC will highlight the work of one local science teacher who embraces place-based education and inquiry. Information will be shared about the teacher, her/his school, lesson plans, and tips for success. The teacher will also be invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about implementing place-based education and/or inquiry during a Teacher Tuesday.
Science Educator Institute and Student Restoration Project Planning
In January, The BRIT SEED School and four Fort Worth ISD educators journeyed to San Rafael, California to learn about an innovative teacher and student education model facilitated by the STRAW Project. STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed) is an exceptional model of environmental project-based learning and has utilized watershed restoration to educate students and teachers about their sense of place.
STRAW began with a California 4th grader’s simple question: “How can we save an endangered species?” Inspired by the possible answers, Laurette Rogers, one of the founders of STRAW, began working with her students to restore creek-side habitat for local endangered California freshwater shrimp. Eighteen years later, STRAW has “restored over 20 miles of habitat, galvanized the local community, and led to significant educational innovations” (A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW).
Working side-by-side with educators, environmental experts, and organizations, The BRIT SEED School hopes to initiate a similar program in Fort Worth. The program would provide teachers and students with hands-on learning opportunities to study, explore, and restore the ecological functions of the watersheds and/or prairies in which they live. Our plan is to work with local experts and Fort Worth ISD to implement a science institute for teachers in August 2012 (teaching deep science content and place-based techniques) and our first restoration pilot project in 2013.
BRIT programs are funded by generous donations from the Fash Foundation and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation.
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