Living Classrooms Foundation is working with the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Environmental Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Aquarium to create and manage the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Campus (MCEEC), located on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. This site acts as a gateway to connect underserved individuals and communities to the outdoors and the Chesapeake Bay through environmental education, stewardship activities, and academic enrichment. Living Classrooms is implementing coordinated school and community outreach programs for the Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Cherry Hill, Westport, and other South Baltimore communities. This initiative is based on Living Classrooms’ successful Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) program, which works with urban youth to understand and prevent the environmental effects of pollution and runoff in their own backyards.
Several Living Classrooms programs operate at the MCEEC, but the key objectives are consistent: students learn about the water cycle, explore the concept of watersheds, learn about their own sub-watershed, and employ mapping skills as they locate the storm drains on their school property and in their neighborhoods. Students are also involved in monitoring, protection, and restoration activities such as trash pick-up and recycling. They create rain barrels, stencil storm drains, and design and install native garden habitats. As students living near the Middle Branch learn about and help to improve their own neighborhoods, they become environmental stewards and the community’s future leaders.
The Masonville Cove Environmental Education Campus is also open to independent groups (schools, organizations, businesses, etc.) for field trips and tours that can be customized by Living Classrooms educators to meet a variety of academic, community, and team building goals.
BEE SMART (Baltimore Environmental Education Summer Math and Reading Trailblazers) is a Living Classrooms summer program that operates out of the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Campus. The program serves rising 3rd through 5th grade students and uses STEM as a vehicle to motivate student learning, increase participants’ reading levels and ultimately prevent summer learning loss-closing the achievement gap for students living in the communities of Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Westport, Lakeland, and Mount Winans.
BEE SMART students read, write, and engage in discussion about various STEM topics and conduct hands-on experiments or service projects such as building their own underwater robots with video cameras. The program also includes small group coaching sessions with a reading specialist and recreational activities that reinforce the program’s emphasis on Character Education. Strong parent involvement and rewards for perfect attendance are pillars for this program’s success. Through family workshops, weekend conversation assignments, and continued parent feedback, BEE SMART has achieved a 95% parent involvement rate.
Thanks to our generous funders, including the Maryland State Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, for keeping this program free for our students. This project is also made possible through the support of South Baltimore Gateway Community Impact District Management Authority, the Abell Foundation, and the Hinkey-Benson Family Fund.
Bay Buddies serves 80 students with special needs, ages 5-21, with a unique summer enrichment program.The primary goal of the program is to provide students with opportunities to engage and maintain knowledge in fun and positive learning environments. The program uses hands-on learning experiences while students explore Baltimore to reinforce standards and life skills measured by the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) for special needs students as required by the Maryland State Department of Education. Bay Buddies is a collaborative project supported jointly by The Arc Baltimore, Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Living Classrooms Foundation.
During the program, students participate in a wide variety of hands-on experiences. Activities from previous summers have included arts and crafts and the use of digital pictures, model paddle boat construction and racing, outdoor games, a banner project, field trip to the MD Council for Special Equestrians to go therapeutic horseback riding, sand art, sailing aboard Living Classrooms’ Skipjack Sigsbee and Pungy Schooner Lady Maryland, mosaic frame mirror art, a gardening project during which students learn and practice landscaping skills and utilize adaptive gardening tools to plant a perennial garden as part of a career exploration component, and a field trip to the National Aquarium or the Maryland Science Center.
In addition to involving students in community life, all activities are geared to maintain individuals’ skills outcomes and prevent summer learning loss. As a result of Bay Buddies’ enormous success, the program has received two awards: the Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties and the Innovative Program Award from the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association.
Students received hands-on environmental STEM education at Masonville Cove in 2019
Community members visited Masonville Cove in 2019
Pounds of trash were removed from the campus’s shoreline by students and community volunteers last year
Students completed the BEE SMART program in 2019 and 85% increased their reading score by at least one level (according to Fountas & Pinnell’s A to Z scale)
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