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Mobile laboratory brings environmental science to the classroom

Jennifer Fitzsimmons
DNREC Secretary David Small, Jonathan Gianacopolis, Laurel North Elementary School teacher and Gov. Markell talk with North Laurel 3rd graders about the new DNREC Mobile Science Lab and Children in Nature initiative

Water quality and watersheds may not be the most approachable topics for students, but Delaware officials hope to make it more digestible with a mobile laboratory. 

State officials unveiled DNREC’s “Science At Your Door” Monday afternoon.

The traveling lab will visit schools in the southwestern portion of the First State. Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary David Small said it will offer students a chance to get up close to microscopes, plants and nature.

"It won’t be pictures or a textbook; it will be real learning in their own environment outside their school classroom," Small said. "And they’ll be able to begin to make connections with the world around them and think about where does water go after it rains."

Though topics such as watersheds, water quality and storm pollution might be challenging for students to understand, Small said the technology is going to help engage students, providing them with a better understanding of these subjects.

"It will open up a world to students that might not otherwise have had a chance to do that certainly at home or maybe also in the classrooms," Small said.

Science At Your Door is part of Gov. Jack Markell’s “Children In Nature” initiative. The goal is to pull children away from technology and into the outdoors.

"It's really all part of the idea of getting kids outside to better understand, better connect with the world around them so ultimately as they become adults making economic, social and environmental decisions, they’ll be doing it in a way that minimizes their impact," Small said.

Small said DNREC would ultimately like to expand the program to serve more schools across the state.

The state received $225,000 in funding through the Environmental Protection Agency to start this program.