Swim, Soar, and Fly Into Science Inspiring Hands-on Exploration of Our Natural World
Escambia County Public Schools Foundation, Inc.
The mission of the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation, Inc. (ECPSF) is to enhance education in Escambia County by investing in our children’s future to ensure they graduate on-time and are college or career ready. ECPSF was established in 1986 as a direct support organization for the Escambia County School District. ECPSF partners with the private sector to positively impact a school district of over 44,000 students and over 2,500 teachers. The ECPSF serves as a fiduciary direct support organization for the Escambia County School District, including the Roy Hyatt Environmental Center (RHEC). The mission of the RHEC is to assist students in mastering science concepts and processes through the integration of science disciplines in studying the environment. The goal of RHEC, from the Florida Environmental Education Act, is that the students "come to know the natural world as a complex system that must be cared for."
Annually over 80% of the Escambia County School District (ECSD) elementary schools visit RHEC, as well as home school groups, private schools, senior groups, master naturalists, garden clubs, and occasionally Santa Rosa County Schools, totaling over 6,900 students and adults in the 2017-2018 school year. The targeted population for this project is the 2nd and 5th grade classes of ECSD offering an educational benefit to all those who attend. IMPACT 100 funds will be used for three major additions to RHEC. The grant will fund construction materials to transform an existing space into a “Beach” classroom which will submerge students into an undersea world. They will “swim” with creatures found in habitats along the Gulf Coast while learning about amazing animals. The grant will also fund the purchase of an inflatable portable planetarium which will
allow 60 students at a time to crawl into the dome launching them into a new world. As they blast off they will learn all about the mystery of outer space. The third part of the grant will fund construction materials to renovate an existing greenhouse into a “Butterfly House” allowing students to “fly” with butterflies and immersing them into the butterfly’s fascinating environment. While fluttering alongside butterflies, students will explore and observe the life cycle of these beautiful insects. This project increases the capacity of RHEC to deliver a rich engaging STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) educational experience while increasing student scores in science.
The expected impact of this project is to deliver a unique hands-on, natural learning experience to approximately 7,000 students and adults annually, which will strengthen participants’ understanding of and appreciation for science, all while improving Florida State Assessment (FSA) science performance among elementary school children in the ECSD. This project will: allow students who might never have had the opportunity to experience the natural world; inspire future generations, forever stamping them with a love for science; get students outside away from the digital world; motivate budding scientists; form stewards of science and our environment; complement and extend the capacity of RHEC to deliver, free of charge, rich learning experiences which will strengthen students mastery of the FSA standards; instill a sense of place through understanding of the earth, the earth’s systems and our impacts upon it; spark creativity and imagination while providing activities for students to become more science literate adults; produce science-literate citizens ensuring continued leadership in science and technology; and empower students to make educated choices as adult leaders of our country in the future.