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TEAM-UP (Teaching Environmental Awareness Mobile Unit Program)
Virginia Beach Public Library
The City has identified the Western Bayside section of Virginia Beach as a neighborhood in need of additional support, especially educational enrichment for elementary age children. In addition, the City has identified “ensuring sustainability”, including environmental literacy, as a core strategy in its 2010-2012 Strategic Plan.
In response, the Virginia Beach Public Library, the Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, and First Landing State Park came together to collaborate on a program designed to introduce children in Western Bayside to backyard science and nature under the overarching theme of “The World Around You.” Focusing on the world, the land, the air and water, the program wove personal, cultural, scientific and historical content in a coordinated fashion, and included books, stories, movement and music (presented by Public Library staff), outdoor nature exploration (presented by City and State Park Staff) and live animal interactions and biology-based games and activities (Presented by Aquarium staff).
The programs were conducted once a month, beginning in January 2010 through April 2010, during the Parks and Recreation’s Out-of-School Time Program at the Western Bayside Tri-Campus. The Tri-Campus consists of three separate elementary schools serving grades K & 1, grades 2 & 3, grades 4 & 5 at one central location. In addition to the monthly visits, the TEAM-UP partners provided the afterschool programs with additional resources such as follow-up activity curriculum and supplies, free books for the students, and free nature-based materials such as field guides and bug boxes. Each month the program reached approximately 300 children and taught them about the natural environment in which they live, how they and they families can appreciate nature, and what they can do to support environmental sustainability. “The World Around You” concluded in May 2010 with a large cultural family event in Western Bayside, which included the partners, community leaders, and families of the children from the afterschool program. It was so successful that the series is being repeated this year, with programming based on sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell.