|The use of informal science education in rural areas, especially at rural middle schools has not been well documented. Although rural areas have accessible outdoor learning environments compared to urban areas, teachers are less likely to incorporate informal science activities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate two seventh grade life science teachers’ interests and perspectives towards environmental literacy and stewardship while using a water monitoring curriculum. A total of 135 seventh grade students from 6 classes participated in this study. A case study strategy was used with purposeful sampling, which incorporated questionnaires, surveys, classroom observations, student artifacts, and teacher interviews to evaluate the interests and perspectives towards informal science.
Both teachers’ interest in informal science initially came from their dads. In fact, their dad’s interests in informal science education activities such as, visiting museums, gardening, farming, bee-keeping, and other outdoor activities transferred to the science interests of the two life science teachers in this study. Students showed a significant increase in their overall knowledge assessment scores after the water monitoring curriculum was implemented. Students significantly improved their environmental literacy knowledge (ELK) scores, but not in their stewardship knowledge (SK) scores. Although male students significantly improved their overall scores compared to females, females showed a significant increase in their ELK scores. The water monitoring curriculum enhanced teacher and student interest, and teachers highlighted their interest in implementing a water monitoring curriculum into the 7th grade life science curriculum. The curriculum enhanced students’ interests towards environmental literacy and water stewardship.