Grand Rapids Public Museum Develops Meaningful Watershed Experiences Programming for Students in Partnership with Groundswell

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) has recently published a series of digital lesson plans in partnership with Groundswell, an environmental education program housed in the College of Education at Grand Valley State University.

The lesson plans were developed for students in grades 5 through 12, adhering to Michigan curriculum standards, and focusing on creating meaningful watershed experiences and are now available to educators nationwide on PBS Learning Media at:

The unit is modeled off the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences format as outlined by the Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences curriculum provides a framework for educators looking to incorporate student voice and facilitate learning about the Great Lakes Watershed, ecosystem dynamics and environmental stewardship.

“These lessons provide a framework for teachers to hit many Next Generation Science Standards while empowering students to take actionable steps to improve their communities,” said Erin Koren, Learning Specialist at the GRPM. “Talented classroom teachers from Forest Hills Public Schools, Godwin Heights Public Schools and Grand Rapids Public Schools who participate in the Groundswell program piloted this resource and provided valuable feedback that shaped the materials, helping ensure the lessons were effective and meaningful for local students.”

The lesson plans tie in with watershed-related programming that the GRPM offers to both student groups through its Guided Educational Program offerings, as well as visiting public during their Science Tuesday and Saturday Curiosity Lab experiences.

”We are so thrilled to have a resource that walks teachers through the process of creating a meaningful watershed experience for their students. These lesson plans will support teachers who want to take their students outside and engage them in hands-on learning through the natural environment,” said Joanna Allerhand, Assistant Director in the Center for Educational Partnerships in the College of Education at GVSU.

The lesson plans were funded through a NOAA B-WET grant. This grant also provided funding for four teacher teams to engage their students in outdoor exploration and environmental problem-solving.

Groundswell of Grand Valley State University

Groundswell is a coalition of community partners creating opportunities for hands-on environmental learning in West Michigan. We support educators who want to move beyond the classroom walls and teach students through their own communities. Groundswell students engage in real-world problem solving by identifying an environmental need in their community and working with partner organizations to solve that need.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is an invaluable, publicly-owned institution that is home to more than 250,000 unique artifacts that tell the history of Kent County and beyond, houses the only planetarium in the region, and is responsible for protecting the Norton Indian Mounds, a national historic landmark. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, with its main location in downtown Grand Rapids, MI at 272 Pearl Street, NW. For additional information, including hours of operation, admission fees and exhibit/event listings, please visit