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Watershed Stewardship in Action: Deaf Students on the Estuary

Project Summary

The partners will create an American Sign Language teaching module on estuary and watershed concepts and vocabulary, train educators on the module content in dedicated workshops, and host field trips for those educators and their students at reserve sites in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

About the Project

An American Sign Language STEM module focused on estuaries and watersheds will be embedded in ASL Clear, an online conceptual learning resource, to make it available both to teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing and to ASL interpreters. In fall of 2017 and 2018, the Waquoit Bay Reserve hosted Teacher on the Estuary workshops for Boston University's pre-service deaf education graduate students. In summer 2018, the Waquoit Bay Reserve hosted an additional workshop for in-service educators across New England whose students are hearing impaired. Those educators then infused their curriculum with estuary and watershed concepts as a prelude to student field trips to their nearest research reserve.

Project Period



  1. ASL signs for estuary, watershed, and other key terms
  2. American Sign Language video modules focusing on the concepts and vocabulary of watersheds and estuaries
  3. Teachers on the Estuary trainings for educators working in deaf education
  4. Student field trips to National Estuarine Research Reserves
  5. Deaf STEM Journey videos featuring interviews with four scientists

Video Module: Estuary Values

This video is one in a series of five modules that address Watersheds, Water Quality, Water Quality Monitoring, Estuary Values, and Sea Level Rise. [Enable closed captioning (CC button in lower right) to read English translations.


  • Waquoit Bay Reserve (project lead)
  • Wells Reserve
  • Narragansett Bay Reserve
  • The Learning Center (Center for Research and Training)
  • Boston University Deaf Studies Program


NERR Science Collaborative: $44,853 science transfer grant

The National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems Science Collaborative supports collaborative research that addresses coastal management problems important to the reserves. The Science Collaborative is managed by the University of Michigans Water Center through a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Funding for the research reserves and this program comes from NOAA. Learn more at or

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