LIFE (Learning in Florida's Environment)
LIFE (Learning in Florida's Environment) in Sarasota County is an environmental science enrichment program, provided by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County and designed for 4th and 5th grade to build knowledge, skills, and stewardship among students in Florida through meaningful field experiences. Some explorations are also appropriate for 3rd and 6th grade. LIFE provides an opportunity for students to act as wildlife biologists, ornithologists, entomologists, marine scientists, horticulturalists, and more with the hopes of making science and scientific careers more accessible.
The LIFE program in Sarasota County is a multi-agency effort that brings students out to public conservation lands for science-based environmental education, reinforcing existing curriculum and Florida standards through hands-on, field labs facilitated by educators, scientists, and land/resource managers. Students participate in 3 field experiences at State and County Parks throughout the year, as research has shown that multiple interactions cement concepts and experiences and are more likely to affect long-term change. Each field experience focuses on an unique Florida ecosystem, land management challenges, and choices students can make to decrease human impact on their environment. Each field trip is preceded by a 1-hour in-class presentation to prepare students for the terminology, concepts, scientific equipment, and expectations. Fall trips focus on Freshwater ecosystems at Myakka River State Park (labs include plankton studies and energy flow, orienteering and native plants, and bird adaptations). Winter trips focus on Upland ecosystems at Oscar Scherer State Park (labs include animal adaptations, plant reproduction and anatomy, and water quality). Spring trips focus on Coastal ecosystems at Lemon Bay Park & Environmental Center (labs include mangrove ecosystems with dipnetting, enviroscape, and marine invertebrate classification).
Educational experiences are provided free of charge. Schools are responsible for bus transportation and students bringing water and lunch to eat on-site.
As an adjunct opportunity, we offer a variety of 10-16 minute LIFE Science Short videos aligned to 3rd-6th grade science standards. Each video introduces a topic which is then presented by an expert in their field. 1-2 activities are discussed or demonstrated that easily done at school or home. Teachers receive a handbook that includes links to the videos, a brief description of content and activities, science standards addressed, and links to pre- and post-test assessments. Videos can be watched individually, or grouped together by topic or Big Idea. Program is free. Reach out to Dr. Katherine Clements for materials.