The Cumberland River Compact is excited to provide more than 18 e-STEM Education Kits for use by elementary and middle school teachers within the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS). Supported by a Google Data Centers grant, the e-STEM kits were created using teacher input, and offer supplies to implement hands-on, environmentally-based activities in the classroom.
This effort is a continuation of the Compact’s work with CMCSS, and an extension of the Compact’s environmental STEM (e-STEM) for Tennessee’s Teachers program that provides resources and trainings throughout the state. Free e-STEM resources provide place-based, hands-on activities aligned to Tennessee’s Standards, and accompanying teacher trainings empower teachers to incorporate local environmental content into their classrooms.
In November of 2022, the Compact was invited to participate in a training for the STEM Lead Teachers from each elementary school in CMCSS. At this training, teachers learned about using their local environment to teach place-based science in the outdoors, and provided input on supplies that would be useful to help them implement these techniques in their classrooms.
“The Cumberland River Compact provided much more than just an incredible learning experience for teachers. They inspired, engaged and sparked learning experiences for all teachers. Our teachers left their time at the training excited to create lessons for their students utilizing their new knowledge. They can’t wait to use the STEM Kits in their classrooms!” – Anne Head, K-8 STEM/Science Curriculum Consulting Teacher
The feedback from teachers was used to create six themed kits that teachers can borrow during the school year from the Central Office: Backyard Birds, Stream Health, Erosion and our Waterways, History of Life on the Cumberland River, Schoolyard Explorations, and Healthy Plants, Healthy Water. Each kit also has a link to a Google Drive folder with resources, activities, and photos for teachers to use in their classrooms.
With additional support from the City of Clarksville and Montgomery County, the Compact hosted learning sessions at the ENGAGE teacher training in-service in the summer of 2023 to introduce teachers to the e-STEM Kits. Teachers were able to explore the contents of each kit and practice the accompanying activities. We are excited to see how the kits bring hands-on environmental learning into classrooms during the 2023 – 2024 school year!
Ellen Messerly is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Cumberland River Compact, where she builds community through teacher trainings, curriculum building, and outreach events. Ellen has a B.S. in Wildlife Science and a B.S. in Animal and Poultry Science from Virginia Tech and a M.S. Environmental Education and M.A. in Teaching from Southern Oregon University. She earned a middle/high school science credential, and has experience working with pre-k through adult learners. She serves on the board of the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, and enjoys hiking, gardening, and baking sourdough bread in her spare time.