Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) Resources

Prompted by the reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 2000 and its renewal in 2014, the meaningful watershed educational experience (MWEE) initiative has grown into a statewide and regional environmental education movement. Its implementation has resulted in exciting new partnerships within school systems and the community at large. Through the efforts of individual educators and the support of numerous community and governmental agencies, thousands of Virginia students are discovering the intricacies of their own watershed and are actively engaged in social and scientific field research.

The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement Environmental Literacy Goal states: Enable every student in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed.

The Student Outcome for this goal is: Continually increase students’ age-appropriate understanding of the watershed through participation in teacher-supported, meaningful watershed educational experiences and rigorous, inquiry-based instruction, with a target of at least one meaningful watershed educational experience in elementary, middle and high school depending on available resources.

What is a MWEE?

As defined by the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership, a “MWEE is an investigative or experimental project that engages students in thinking critically about the Bay watershed. MWEEs are not intended to be quick, one-day activities; rather, they are extensive projects that allow students to gain a deep understanding of the issue or topic being presented. Students participate in background research, hands-on activities and reflection periods that are appropriate for their ages and grade levels.”

MWEEs are experiences that:

  • are investigative or project oriented.
  • are richly structured and based on high-quality instructional design.
  • are an integral part of the instructional program.
  • are part of a sustained activity.
  • consider the watershed as a system.
  • involve external sharing and communication.
  • are enhanced by natural resources personnel.
  • are for all students.

To learn more, please see the 2017 easy-to-use Educator's Guide to MWEE and review the complete definition from the Bay program.  Also available is the original 2001 defintion document.

In Virginia, Project WET supplements are popular for water-based experiences.  Activities can be used to prepare, assess and debrief field investigations. Additional resources from other providers are also available.  

Featured Topics

An Educator's Guide to MWEEs

Watershed Educators Institutes final report

Watershed Educators Institutes (brochure)

Augmented Reality Sandbox DEQ's interactive watershed model

Environmental Literacy management strategy

Project WET

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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