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Students study the SF Bay: a great way to highlight California's Environmental Principles & Concepts

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

Why the bay?

Well, there's a multitude of natural factors that make the bay unique and essential to our ecosystem. For one, the merging of the salt and freshwater makes the bay an estuary, promoting variability and complexity that drives the abundance of fish and other organisms (Frantzich, et al 2018). People have been benefiting from the bay's abundant resources for thousands of years, and the evidence is everywhere you look. Because of the bay's ecological significance and human history, teachers can address all of the BIG IDEAS of the California Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) when students experience this habitat.

By law, the EP&Cs must be addressed in future California textbooks and instructional materials adopted by the state. It is imperative that students are offered outdoor experiences where they can better connect these principles and concepts to increase overall environmental literacy.

"l love the hands-on learning environment. The students get a thrill from catching the fish, touching the fish, and putting mud on their faces. The students can relate to this learning easily. Environmental stewardship is also a focus in our fourth grade curriculum. MSI's program is our entry point into this important segment of our learning." - 4th Grade Teacher, Country Club Elementary

California's Environmental Principles and Concepts:

Principle 1 - People Depend on Natural Systems

Principle 2 - People Influence Natural Systems

Principle 3 - Natural Systems Change in Ways that People Benefit From and Can Influence

Principle 4 - There are no Permanent or Impermeable Boundaries that Prevent Matter from Flowing Between Systems

Principle 5 - Decisions Affecting Resources and Natural Systems are Complex and Involve Many Factors

Putting students in direct physical contact with their local bay environment makes these principles much more visible to students, so that they will be better prepared to ask questions and define challenges we face in balancing our human interactions with our planet.

By Naomi Deal


Resources and References:

  • California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. (2015). History and Development of the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum. Retrieved March 6, 2018, from

  • Frantzich, J., Sommer, T., & Schreier, B. (2018). Physical and Biological Responses to Flow in a Tidal Freshwater Slough Complex. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, 16(1). Retrieved from


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