Grants Open Up Opportunities for Watershed Education, Art and Engagement
PHILADELPHIA, PA – October 8, 2014 – A pair of grants from the William Penn Foundation will allow the Fairmount Water Works to improve environmental education in Philadelphia middle schools and engage new audiences through art.
The Foundation awarded the Fairmount Water Works $506,000 to launch a three-year Middle School Teacher Fellowship Program to develop a curriculum that integrates urban watershed education with core science and English standards for sixth through eighth grade students. It also awarded an $82,500 planning grant for the Fairmount Water Works to prototype an interactive and kinetic sculpture near the river and the Water Works’ historic building.
Middle School Fellowship Program
Fifty-four Philadelphia School District teachers will create and test lessons in their classrooms and receive monthly training, classroom support from environmental educators, curriculum specialists and experts from the Philadelphia Water Department, and funds for supplies, staff development and bus transportation for field trips. The program is based on the Fairmount Water Works’ existing program, Understanding the Urban Watershed Curriculum Guide, a framework for lessons on watershed, and water use in the context of an urban environment. More than 1,500 students will be reached in the program’s first three years.
“We’re developing this curriculum at a time when the need for high-quality environmental education is critical so students can understand the issues we face in Philadelphia, and across the United States,” said Karen Young, Director of the Fairmount Water Works. “Our goal is to help teachers increase engagement and academic achievement by integrating real-world environmental experiences, hands-on exploration and project-based learning into the classroom.”
Student teacher volunteers from Temple University’s TU Teach program, University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and Bryn Mawr College’s Community Praxis program will also support the teachers.
The prototype sculpture will be situated on the Schuylkill River Trail, a 250-mile regional bike and pedestrian trail network used by an estimated one million people annually. It will provide information about urban watersheds and promote sharing of the information through online platforms.
“Most users are passive outdoor enthusiasts,” said Young. “Our idea is to attract and engage them, and transform them into ambassadors and advocates for the watershed, source water protection and the Fairmount Water Works.”
Collaborators on the project include: Bartram’s Garden; City Parks Association; Habitheque Inc.; Philadelphia Parks and Recreation; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Schuylkill River Development Corporation. Advisors include the Center for Emerging Visual Arts; the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education/LandLab Artists-in-Residence and the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.
The artists selected to create prototype sculptures are Alison Stigora of West Chester, PA; Jann Rosen-Queralt of Baltimore, MD; and Jordan S. Griska of Brooklyn, NY, known for his most recent public installation, the Grumman Greenhouse, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Griska transformed a massive warplane into a functioning greenhouse.
About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets totaled over $2.2 billion as of December 31, 2013.
About the Fairmount Water Works
The Fairmount Water Works, the ideal location to learn more about the life in and around the river, was constructed in 1812 to pump water from the Schuylkill River. Almost from the day the waterwheels began turning, the graceful neoclassical buildings and beautiful grounds made the place an international tourist attraction renowned for melding nature and technology. Today, the Fairmount Water Works is the Delaware River Basin’s watershed education hub, offering visitors information about the impact of water on their daily lives and how they in turn impact their water supplies. Located off Kelly Drive in Philadelphia’s East Fairmount Park, the Fairmount Water Works features a variety of hands-on, highly interactive exhibits including a live view of the Fairmount Dam fishway and a flyover of the Schuylkill River watershed. For more information, visit http://www.fairmountwaterworks.org.