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Bringing the DNR to classrooms around Michigan

COVID-19 has created many new work, home and life scenarios, and that’s especially true with K-12 education. With many schools moving online, the DNR has launched Nature at School, an opportunity for educators to schedule free, virtual education sessions presented by DNR professionals. Teachers can book 11 different programs, each 30 minutes long, with additional time for questions.

“Nature at School has been a mammoth undertaking,” said DNR Education Services manager Kevin Frailey. “In a typical year, more than 50,000 school kids would visit our 10 statewide visitor centers, but COVID-19 has influenced that tremendously. Instead of waiting for the big yellow buses to return, we decided to take nature to them instead.”

Michigan educators who teach third through 12th grade can find more information about each program, review the learning outcomes and register for open time slots at Michigan.gov/NatureAtSchool.

Each program comes with optional pre- and post-lesson activities and lets students participate in a fun “Kahoot” – a learning game that tests students’ knowledge of the topic – to monitor the program’s effectiveness.

“We have a fantastic team of park and hatchery interpreters who will bring their expertise to your students, whether they are participating from school or at home,” Frailey said. “One of the unique factors of this program is that Michigan’s most amazing places, like the Porcupine Mountains wilderness, Tahquamenon Falls, Hartwick Pines and many others, will be coming into your classroom.”

Students in Detroit, for example, can learn about biodiversity in the western Upper Peninsula – nearly 600 miles away – and compare it to nature in their own communities.

Pre-lesson materials also connect teachers to the Next Generation Science Standards, and all the programs have some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) components.

Nature at School is a companion effort to Nature at Home, a comprehensive listing of videos, activities and learning resources launched last spring when COVID-19 sent students home and parents scurrying for ways to educate and entertain their children. Both programs focus on connecting people to nature and Michigan’s natural and cultural resources.

Questions? Contact Kevin Frailey at 517-284-6043.