In response to the altered school schedules and gathering limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Westerly Land Trust created a program called Living Laboratories, which is held outside on our preserves and provides hands-on, experiential lessons designed for K-8th grades. Living Laboratories ran as a pilot program for 5 weeks in Fall 2020, open to 10 students per session, three sessions per week. Due to the program’s success, Living Laboratories resumed for Winter Break in February and will be back for another multi-week session in Spring 2021.
This program is free of charge (like all of WLT’s educational programing), thanks to the generous support of individuals, businesses and foundations.
Living Laboratories was recently featured in Eco RI News.
***COVID NOTES: The Westerly Land Trust follows Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines to determine group sizes and safety precautions.
Downloadable Lesson Plans are available:
Through thoughtful curating, we transformed our existing environmental and science-based curriculum and programming to meet the specific needs of the rising number of homeschool and distance learning families, tailoring our content for parents suddenly finding themselves in teaching roles.
Education in Times of Normalcy
With the onset of the 2020 health crisis, the Westerly Land Trust sprang in to action to adapt to the needs of our community by creating Living Laboratories and downloadable lesson plans, both designed for smaller or family-led groups. But in times of normalcy, the Westerly Land Trust partners with schools, summer camps, and scout troops, welcoming larger groups onto our properties. Our preserves offer an array of ecosystems to explore, providing an excellent opportunity for students to study wildlife, habitats, geology, botany and connect with the natural world. WLT is currently working with several local schools to engage students in hands-on experiences aimed at instilling a deep understanding and appreciation for the environment.
Westerly Land Trust currently partners with Chariho Regional Schools, Pine Point School, Westerly Public Schools, and St. Michael School throughout the school year. We are also excited to partner with like-minded organizations to offer joint programming in science education on both water and land.
Westerly Land Trust’s education initiative supports the Rhode Island Environmental Literacy Plan. Rhode Island is among the first states in the nation to finish an Environmental Literacy Plan, opening the door for potential federal funding that will help equip teachers with skills, knowledge and confidence needed to integrate critical environmental and science learning into their curricula. Our educational programming also aligns with GEMSnet (Guiding Education in Math and Science Network) science standards to apply science education goals on the land.