FLOW Education: Facilitating Learning through Outdoor Watershed Education

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Course Date: 17 September 2014 to 29 October 2014 (6 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

This course is designed for classroom teachers (grades 4-8) to learn about watersheds and outdoor education using the Chesapeake Bay watershed as an example. The course introduces engaging technologies for investigating watersheds and helps you plan and effectively implement outdoor experiences.

Estimated Workload: 5-6 hours/week

Course Instructors

Kathleen Schwille

Kathleen Schwille is the vice president of Educational Design and Development at National Geographic Education Programs. She oversees professional development and materials development projects for K-12 teachers and informal educators focused on geography, science, and social studies learning, field work, and use of media in educational settings.

Before coming to the National Geographic Society, Kathleen researched professional development programs for science teachers to increase student learning and change teachers’ classroom behavior. This previous work was based on the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) studies that compared science classrooms in the United States to classrooms around the world where students routinely out-perform our students on science achievement tests. Kathleen has also developed science materials for students, including a full year high school environmental science program, Investigations in Environmental Science: A Case-Based Approach to the Study of Environmental Systems.  

Kathleen is a certified science teacher; she taught high school chemistry in rural Tanzania with the Peace Corps. Kathleen has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry education and a master’s degree in learning sciences, both from Northwestern University.  

Course Description

Watershed education is an excellent way to introduce students to rich, interdisciplinary studies of one of the most important resources located in students’ backyards—water! The goal of the course is to increase your content knowledge on watershed topics and to help you develop outdoor learning experiences for your students.

In this course you will:

  • Increase literacy around watershed issues
  • Prepare to implement watershed content using engaging and effective instructional strategies in the classroom and on the school grounds
  • Share and reflect on your practice in a collaborative online environment

The course is designed for science and social studies teachers in grades 4 through 8. No prior knowledge is required. Teaching experience and access to students in a classroom is recommended.


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this course?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.

What resources will I need for this course?
For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, and the time to read and view cool content from National Geographic; discuss with your peers, and develop a course project.

What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this course?
The National Geographic Society offers this course to help you prepare young people for the far-reaching decisions they will face throughout their lives. To be prepared for these decisions, they must be able to recognize the far-reaching implications of the decisions they make, and they must be able to take those impacts into account when making decisions. For this, your students need to understand how our world works, how our world is connected, and how to make well reasoned decisions.


This course consists of videos, readings and interactive resources.  Each session has a learning component in the form of a quiz called Checking for Understanding. You will work on a course project throughout the course which after submission, will be reviewed by your peers. The richest experience of this course is the collaboration and interaction in the discussion boards. It is your opportunity to learn from others. There is no final exam.

Course Workload

5-6 hours/week

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