Hands-On Environmental Programming at the Beacon Institute | Branded Content | In the Classroom | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Hands-On Environmental Programming at the Beacon Institute
All images courtesy of Clarkson University

For families and schools in the Hudson Valley, the last year has been tumultuous to say the least. With the introduction of full-time remote learning and limited in-person classes, creating meaningful educational experiences for students has never been more challenging.

Despite it all, the team at Clarkson’s Beacon Institute remains committed to providing educational programming for students and school systems that help ignite interest in science in kids of all ages.

“New York and the US face a shortage of millions of STEM workers,” says Asher Pacht, Director of Environmental Programs at the Beacon Institute. “Our goal is to inspire young people to enjoy, pursue, and stay in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math by integrating enrichment programs with real-world experiences and the arts.”

click to enlarge Hands-On Environmental Programming at the Beacon Institute
Beacon Institute Education Program Manager Brigette Walsh introduces Edward the Eastern Box Turtle to Beacon elementary school students via Google Meet.

During the pandemic, the Beacon Institute has been able to adapt its programming to continue offering activities and learning opportunities in the great outdoors. Its Water Ecology Center located in Dennings Point Park provides the perfect stage for students to engage with science and nature while maintaining social distance.

“We’ve been able to continue meeting in small groups outdoors, and our virtual live animal program has been popular with school groups,” says Pacht. “We focus a lot on how to get students excited about sticking with STEM studies through our nature and environmental programs.”

Through these hands-on programs, the Beacon Institute is able to leverage a natural laboratory for learning—the Hudson River—to explore estuary ecology and issues of plastic pollution, marine debris, and surface runoff, as well as study species that are invasive to the Dennings Point park ecosystem.

The Beacon Institute also offers enrichment programs like Mother Nature & Me for preschoolers and Horizons summer camp for middle schoolers to provide tools to help young learners excel in STEM disciplines, leading the way toward success in school, careers, and life. “Going into 2021, we’re excited to continue offering so many options to students,” says Pacht.

The Beacon Institute Gallery and Water Ecology Center are currently open by appointment. Contact Brigette Walsh at [email protected] to learn more. discover.clarkson.edu/beacon

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