This curricular program is a result of two cycles of pilot testing of the Lunder New Naturalists curriculum by Maine teachers and students, and their feedback and suggestions for best practice.
In 2012 the pilot program was conceived by Melissa Cullina, Director of Education at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The genesis for the idea came from connecting children with nature without excluding technology. Generously funded by the Lunder Foundation, Portland, Maine, with an additional gift from the Davis Conservation Fund, the subsequent formal curriculum development focused on the middle level (6th‐8th grades). The pilot integrated three learning pedagogies and created three deep learning opportunities around biodiversity and conservation, tied together by a compelling historical narrative. This customized website was developed in collaboration with Image Works of Portland, Maine to securely host the curriculum, community, research, assessment, and projects and presentations.
Coordinated by Amity Beane with guidance from the Director of Education and a team of expert advisors over a 30‐month period, the pilot was implemented two times, once in 2013‐14, and once in 2014-15. Overall participation was 19 schools, 40 teachers, and almost 1000 students.
At the conclusion of the pilot period, program evaluation revealed many positive outcomes. These include a high level of student engagement, mastery of the materials, appropriate use of technology, and community impact. The complete evaluation can be read here.
In addition, a Curriculum Guide for the Lunder New Naturalists was developed and has been made available as a free, browser-based book. Click here to see the Curriculum Guide. Printed copies of the guide can be ordered by calling (207) 633-8030.