Last October, three Long Beach city departments announced a partnership with The National Theatre for Children (NTC), a production company that creates education plays and programs for children.
Together, the NTC produced free digital lesson plans for LBUSD K-5 grade students, as well as middle school students, covering environmental topics like water conservation, waste management and natural gas safety.
“We wanted to make sure that these programs are fun — something kids want to do after school because realistically, going from online schooling to more schooling isn’t always fun,” Matt Levine, communications manager at NTC, said. “These programs are something kids can do and it won’t feel like they’re sitting in a classroom.”
Teachers also can incorporate the lessons in their curriculum. Worksheets and exams are ready to go and can be downloaded at any time.
And city leaders had their say too. The citywide effort includes a partnership between the Energy Resources Department, Water Department and the Department of Public Works to create an online learning curriculum that focuses on how students can help create a cleaner, greener Long Beach. The lessons are paired with online quizzes and discussions so students can put what they’ve learned into practice — at least on the computer screen.
As part of the contract with the city departments, the NTC has formed multiple partnerships with school districts, creating economically-focused curriculums to help educate students on issues within their communities.
Programs are free and easily accessible for both teachers and parents and include two types of lesson plans, one for K-5 grade students and one for middle school students. Each program features entertaining and age-appropriate content catered specifically for conservation in Long Beach.
For K-5 audiences, the lesson is called "The Conservation Caper," where students can follow Nikki Nature, a member of the fictional Long Beach-based Eco Guardians, assigned to take on the wasteful Dr. Maybe at her company picnic. She enlists the help of her friends to learn all she can about water conservation, natural gas safety and waste reduction to defeat the villainous Dr. Maybe.
For 6-8 grade audiences, The LBC E-Team presents more advanced information on these topics through a series of comedic sketches featuring conservation-themed information. Topics covered include STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), conservation and career pathways in Long Beach. These sketches are produced live, so teachers and parents need to sign up ahead of showtime.
Additionally, the programs meet the state of California’s language arts, science and national common core standards, according to Kaylee Weatherly, public information officer at the Water Department.
"These programs are both educational and fun," she said. "Our goal is to teach the next generation of environmental stewards sustainable habits that they can use for the rest of their lives."