By Rebecca Shoer
Education & Engagement Program Manager
For many of us, 2022 felt like a breath of fresh air after the depths of the pandemic: the chance to safely enjoy times with friends and family, rediscover our favorite places, and release some of the tension that had shrouded us for many, many months. For the Lab’s Education and Engagement program, the year also brought us many wonderful opportunities to engage with Bostonians and visitors of all ages across the Harbor!
In close partnership with the National Parks of Boston, we piloted a series of fifth-grade lessons focused on the essential question: How do we know when something is changing? Alongside students at the O’Donnell School in East Boston, we explored how field scientists measure change along our coasts, tried out some scientific models and monitoring techniques, and spent a beautiful day on the water touring some of Boston’s islands. Our team is already in the process of planning our next series of lessons, this time focused on salt marshes and restoration, for a new set of fifth graders this spring!
After over a year of development and planning, we were absolutely thrilled to pilot our first Summer Teacher Institute this past July! With our team from the Lab, NPS, and Boston Public Schools, we brought eight local teachers into the field to learn about place-based learning, climate change, and citizen science. Participants met with local experts, explored Boston Harbor, and created a series of capstone lesson plans that could be implemented in their schools. By providing resources and experience to these teachers, our hope is to establish a community of educators who create locally relevant and empowering climate change lessons for Boston area youth. Planning for year two is well under way, and applications will open in time for February break!
2022 was also our second year of research supported by local community members! UMass Boston and the Lab trained volunteers to conduct intertidal monitoring surveys at eight sites around Boston Harbor. Participants learned to identify and count a specific group of intertidal organisms and reported their findings using a mobile phone app. They also tracked surface temperature data at each site, and we discovered that some of the intertidal habitats in Boston reached unheard-of temperatures during the summer heatwaves. Although our teams are packing up for the winter, we will continue collecting data at four sites in the Harbor next year, and will launch a new community supported research project in spring 2023. Stay tuned for how to get involved, and feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
We also installed five Chronolog photo stations around Boston Harbor. These stations allow anyone with a smartphone to snap a picture of our coast and submit it to a timelapse video. We’re already seeing incredible seasonal coastal change, and by collecting this imagery we can explore how we can continue to adapt to change over time.
This year we launched our new Climate Cart in collaboration with Boston Harbor Now! These mobile pop-up climate activities are guided by our Coastal Resilience Principles and let students of all ages explore how climate change is affecting our communities. We were thrilled to bring the Cart all over Boston, from the Greenway to Spectacle Island to the Museum of Science, and we can’t wait to visit even more sites in 2023! All of our activity guides are freely available on our website, and if you’d like the Cart to visit your next community event, please reach out to Rebecca (me!): email@example.com.
Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, our Engagement team grew this year as Melanie Gárate joined the Lab as our Director of Climate Engagement. With Melanie’s incredible expertise and enthusiasm, we are already making new connections and will be launching new programs in 2023. As this year winds down we’re enjoying some time to rest and celebrate with family – and we’re looking forward to another year of growth and partnership in 2023!