What We Do
CREA Educators have advanced ecological literacy in public schools since 2007 by providing innovative outdoor, nature- and place-based learning experiences for elementary students.
We lead 3.5 hour field trips for K-5 classes at our Ecology Center, located at the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham. Each field trip uses uses a combination of hands-on, experiential outdoor and indoor activities – centered around a single topic (Habitat, Pond Life, Energy, Geology, etc) – that fulfill Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards for that topic.
We use innovative teaching methods – Explore First, Explain Later – that engage all students. After years of observing student engagement and learning on our field trips, many of our collaborating K-5 teachers and administrators see the benefits of our nature-based instruction and methods and want to learn them.
To meet this need, CREA Educators have begun to lead workshops for public school elementary teachers on how to teach science using hands-on, experiential methods. Working in small focus groups, our educators have developed place-based lessons that meet NGSS standards; helped develop district science curricula for elementary grades; and, translated NGSS standards into workable lesson plans for elementary grades. CREA has offered a summer fellows teacher workshop since 2016 to model place-based teaching for teachers. From this workshop has grown the Outdoor Learning Network, a peer-to-peer collaboration in which teachers who take their students outdoors to learn gather and share ideas.
We have developed particularly close relationships with two school districts – MSAD 75 (Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin, and Bowdoinham) and Brunswick School District, but work with other schools as well.
Sarah Rodgers, Educator and CREA School Program Coordinator
Carey Truebe, Educator and CREA School Program Coordinator