The Interpretive Center offers free environmental education lessons available on a variety of topics. If required, a lesson can be tailored for the individual educator's needs. All of the science lessons meet New Jersey State Core Curriculum standards and incorporate “hands on” inquiry based learning. (See sample lesson plan) During the fall and winter the Center offers a free environmental education outreach program. The Center visits many schools instructing students on subjects such as Watersheds, Water Monitoring and Animal and Plant diversity. We recommend your school visit the Center as we strive to partner with science educators.
Educators are invited to make use of the quality environmental education programs at the Center. Whether you’re a formal educator of any level or a home school educator, we have a program to fit your needs. All of the programs are free of charge and require scheduling. Call the center at (732) 566-3208 for more information
Fulfilling New Jersey Educational Standards Through a State Park Visit
By James H. Faczak, Naturalist Cheesequake State Park
Science teaching often involves using the outdoors as an environmental education classroom. However, the current initiative in education requires that this fieldtrip be an educational experience in which NJ Core Curriculum Standards are met. The demanding classroom schedule combined with high transportation costs make traveling off site difficult. Approval for the trip often revolves around the content and context of the Outreach Program. Authorization for the educational program is more likely to be granted if it supports the immediate needs of the classroom instructor along with providing an outlet for creative, critical thinking through “hands on” inquiry based learning.
The mission of partnering science education with Interpretive Centers is necessary in fostering their comprehensive environmental education program. Cheesequake State Park’s Interpretive Center has been involved with numerous schools in providing quality environmental science education at the park. The Center has responded to the State Core Curriculum standards by developing in-park and outreach programs tailored to the new educational frameworks. The Center has lesson plans on varied environmental topics which meet the standards. Lesson plans can also be made to include specific topics requested by the classroom teacher. A preliminary discussion results in a lesson being chosen or designed. The lesson is then forwarded prior to the arrival of the Institution for approval or revision. This correspondence enables the Park Naturalist to pinpoint the definitive nature of study. Examples of topics include the following: Diversity and Adaptation, Watershed Monitoring, Wetlands and NJ Geology. Each lesson incorporates a “mind on” “hands on” style of teaching. Questions are asked of the students during the program to prompt them into mentally investigating the main issue of study. Integration of living examples into the lesson helps to actively stimulate the passive learner. Many programs are designed to promote discussion or reflection whereby the students are asked to draw conclusions and be able to communicate them. The question, experience, reflection/ communication cycle enables the student to fully process the information and promotes lasting learning.
Cheesequake Interpretive Center is centered in the middle of several macroecosystems. Each one contains a broad diversity of plants, animals and microenvironments. This outdoor setting combined with a thoroughly fascinating Interpretive Center, is the perfect match for engaging science. Human disturbance surrounding or contained within the park allows for the investigation of environmental impacts to natural systems. All programs are free and require preregistration.
Sample Lesson Plan