The Port Exploreum is developing a curriculum for students visiting the museum in downtown Port Washington, thanks to grants from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the Jane Bradley Pettit Brookby Foundation.
The grants, which total $53,000, will be used for the Lake Michigan Learning Lab project, which is aimed at students in grades six through nine, said Bill Moren, who is heading development of the Exploreum’s educational programs.
The project will include a curriculum for students to follow before they visit the museum, as well as materials to consider after their visit.
It will also include using the Lake Michigan table at the museum. Students will be given scenarios, then asked to make various decisions in response, and the impact on a variety of settings — urban, suburban, industrial and agricultural — will be discussed.
“We want to show students what goes into the watershed and how to make the best decisions to cut down on pollution and the like,” Moren said. “These are the people who will make these decisions in the future.”
The project fits with the Exploreum’s freshwater mission, he said.
“The lake has been the driving force in Port Washington’s history,” Moren said. “The preservation of the lake is equally important. We need to make sure the lake remains healthy.”
The learning lab program will train about 40 teachers, Moren said, adding that the Exploreum has hired an educational consultant to develop materials for the teachers to use.
The goal is to get at least 1,000 students through the program, said Wayne Chrusciel, executive director of the Port Washington Historical Society, which operates the Exploreum.
The museum hopes to offer school tours every Tuesday, when it is closed to other visitors, he said.
“We’re trying different ways to get school districts and students involved,” Chrusciel said, noting the Port Washington-Saukville School District has played an active role in creating the curriculum and working with the Exploreum.
The program can be expanded to include learning experiences in partnership with such organizations as Riveredge Nature Center in the Town of Saukville and such agencies as the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, Moren said.
“This is an experiential learning experience,” he said. “We want to link the activities to reinforce the lessons they learn. It makes it more powerful.”