Living Classroom: School Workshops

Engaging youth through hands-on learning is one of the most successful means of fostering an appreciation of the natural environment. The workshops challenge students to think about their waterfront backyard as living, breathing eco-system that they can learn from.

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Living Classroom is an STEM educational program that uses NYS Science Core Curriculum Standards for K-12 classes to provide students with hands on experiential learning.  The program offers public school teachers the opportunity to work with RWA educators who have experience in a variety of science related fields, to foster an appreciation for the natural environment and enable students to explore challenging social and environmental issues.

Class Overview:
*  Each class is 45 minutes in length

*  Program cost is $200/class up to 30 students(fee waived for Rockaway public schools)*
*  Classes are conducted during the regular school day along the shoreline of the Rockaway Peninsula or at the specific school requesting the workshop.  

To learn more about this program or to schedule a Living Classroom Workshop, please contact: Program Director John Cruz:

Workshops are offered in the following topics:

Environmental Resiliency/ Climate Change
RWA curriculum for 6th-12th graders to help students understand climate change and how geographic location, natural forces and man-made infrastructure contributed to the damaging effects of Sandy on the Rockaway Peninsula.  Students work in teams to design and create their own protective barriers using hard and soft infrastructure and present their work to the class.

Recycling Arts
This program is for classes K-4th grade to educate students about recycling. Classes close to the shoreline will collect various items off the shore to discuss how they break down and the damage they can cause to wildlife in the area. Students will take part in a hands on activity to create  "washed ashore" murals using found objects and plastics collected from the shoreline. 

Marine Science
This program introduces students to marine science through a series of hands on lessons to learn about the natural habitat of Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Beach. This includes water testing, seining, and oyster gardening, to learn about the specific birds and plants native to the Rockaway Peninsula.

Community Planning
Students learn about advocacy in their own community and work in teams to create projects that support the local community. Grassroots advocacy and planning is a positive way for young people to visualize creating community gardens, parks, public plazas or safer streets on underutilized land in their own neighborhood.

Gardening & Healthy Cooking
These classes can be conducted in the school classroom or at the RWA garden where students will learn the basics of urban farming, compost and urban sustainability through a combination of hands on learning activities. 

Water Safety
This is an awareness campaign intended to introduce youth to valuable life saving information through videos, and educational materials focused on water safety. Designed to teach students who live in coastal urban areas of New York City, the risks they should be aware of so they can spend more time enjoying time at the beach. Students will do a hands on workshops making UV bead bracelets. 

Energy Conservation
Wind power and renewable energy are the perfect subject for scientific observation and data collection. In this workshop, students will explore how we can balance our future energy needs with the health of the planet through conservation, efficiency measures, and renewable energy. Students will work in teams to measure the benefits of various forms of energy and compare with one another to measure their carbon footprint and consider their own environmental impact. 

Scavenger Hunt
For this workshop we will lead an edible walking tour and scavenger hunt for the students to learn about the native plants and animals that make the shoreline their home. Students will explore the Rockaway dune preserve to learn about the restoration being led by RWA and how the dunes can protect the community from future storms.

Careers in STEM related Fields
With the prospect of future jobs in science, technology, engineering and math,  RWA is committed to engaging young people in learning more about fields in these areas. These workshops introduce youth to professionals in these fields who work in and around the Rockaway Peninsula and provides an opportunity for students to ask about post high school education, training requirements, work environment and financial benefits. 2015 workshops partners are: US Army Corps, Queens Botanical Garden, Riverhead Foundation, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and Port Authority NY/NJ.

* Fall 2015/ Spring 2016 programming for Rockaway public schools has been generously supported by Councilman Donovan Richard's Greener NYC Initiative to connect local youth to the public waterfront.

Success Stories:

Meet Melina

Melina is the Treasurer of the Shore Corps Program as a part of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance.  She has been a member since 2014.