Education

Grades 3-8

FIELD TRIP ACTIVITIES

Field trips are designed to be hands-on in our outdoor classrooms and microscope laboratory. All lessons align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and support Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs). We can tailor a field trip experience to the needs of your group, just ask. For more information please contact Karen McDonald (McDonaldK@si.edu). 

SHORELINE CONNECTIONS (*Most popular program, 3rd-8th, though adaptable for 9-12th)

This program requires at least 3-4.5 hours and can accept up to 60 students

This field trip is designed to be adaptable to a wide variety of ages and studies. It focuses in the nearshore zone (shoreline) and connecting how humans on the land impact the water of hte Bay. The guiding question is, "What is clean water and how to people affect it?" Students answer this question by going to 3-4 stations (40-45 minutes each) and learning one key vocabulary word to answer this question at the end of the day. 

There are four stations for this trip: 

  • Oyster Bar Station- Students will sort through model oyster reefs (oysters in baskets that have been hanging from our docks to colonize) to handle and survey/sort fish, shrimp, mud crabs, worms, and other benthic invertebrates. They'll learn about the role of living oysters in the Bay as well as the shells and reefs that act as habitat. Keyword--Habitat.
  • Microscope/Plankton Station- We'll visit our microscope lab to learn the differences between clean water, dirty water, and treated water as well as how plankton gives water its color. We'll use microscopes to examine water from a plankton tow and filamentous algae communities from our dock. Keyword--Clean Water.
  • Seining Station- Just like Smithsonian scientists, we'll don waders with our educators and go into the water with nets to sample the fish and invertebrate communities in the nearshore zone of the Bay. Students will sort fish and creatures then discuss where they are found in our different nearshore microhabitats (coarse woody debris, sandy-open area, near emergent grasses). Keyword--Biodiversity. 
  • Watershed Modeling Station- Students will use a watershed model and narrative, with mini-figures and materials, to model how pollution, organics, and debris flows through a watershed and into the Chesapeake Bay. This is a fun and visual way to really understand how a watershed works! Keyword--Watershed.

Seining

BLUE CRAB HYDRAULICS/ENGINEERING A BLUE CRAB (5TH-12TH)

This program requires at least 3 hours, and no more than 25 students.

  • Introduction to Blue Crab Anatomy, Hydraulics, and Pneumatics- Students will start by asking a question about the adaptations that allow blue crabs to live in the Chesapeake Bay. They will then study the life cycle of the blue crab and its molting process. Next they will be introduced to how the blue crab uses fluid movement (hydraulics) to move after molting, and how this relates to pneumatics (motion through compression of air). We will demonstrate these principles, and Newton’s 3rd Law, using syringes of air and water. 
  • Build a Blue Crab Hydraulic Arm- In part two of this class students will be introduced to the field of biomimicry, or solving problems using solutions found in nature. They will then be challenged to engineer a model blue crab arm that moves up and down, mimicking the structure of a blue crab arm. After sketching schematics they will then using simple materials, and syringes filled with fluid, to build a hydraulic arm that can lift a light object.

Blue Crab

REMOTELY OPERATED VEHICLE (ROV) WORKSHOP (5TH-12TH)

This program requires at least 4 hours, and no more than 25 students.

  • Introduction to ROVS: Design and Planning- In the introduction students will learn about ROVs and how scientists at the Smithsonian and around the world use them for research. Students will then be given a design challenge, including their criteria, materials, and constraints of the project. They will then work in teams (named after famous ROVs) to begin drawing schematics and plans.
  • Building ROVs- ROV teams will begin building their ROVs using motors, PVC pipes, ballast, and floats. They will focus on scientific principles that will make their mission a success, including factors of the natural environment where they will be testing the ROVs in and on the Rhode River.
  • Testing on the Water-The completed ROVs will be tested on the docks, allowing students to modify their original design and to participate in iterative testing of their ROV to achieve an optimal design for their challenge. All groups will present the final design to the entire class.

large_09_rov_workshop_2s.jpg

SKILL BUILDING CANOE EXCURSION (4TH GRADE+)

Canoe excursions are designed for beginner paddlers and will include basic paddling instruction, life jackets, and two canoe guides. Trips are 2.5 hours long and may take up to 22 participants (parents and students). All participants should be able to swim. Listed below are the minimum number of chaperones required by age group, and the possible student-chaperone combinations you may have in one canoe.  Guides will discuss the basics of watersheds and estuaries with participants, as well as share current research conducted at SERC. They will also point out wetland features, native plants, and animals along the way.  

Canoe Excursion

Minimum # Chaperones

# People Per Canoe (combinations)

3-5th

1 adult per 2 students

2 students + 1 chaperone

 6th-8th

1 adult per 4 students

2 students; 1 student & 1 chaperone; or 2 students & 1 chaperone

HABITAT SURVEY CANOE EXCURSION (4TH GRADE+)

Students will begin with a short paddling introduction and explanation. After getting on the water they will then be challenged to answer the question, “Which Bay shoreline has the highest habitat value.” They will describe shoreline habitats based on soil types collected at different sites, plants that are present, erosion, human impacts, and signs of change. They will use data from what they find in a simple rubric that they can complete on the water. When they get back to shore they will then discuss what they found. Suggested for middle school students and older. Content can be adapted for grade and age of students.

Canoe Excursion

Minimum # Chaperones

# People Per Canoe (combinations)

3-5th

1 adult per 2 students

2 students + 1 chaperone

6th-8th

1 adult per 4 students

2 students; 1 student & 1 chaperone; or 2 students & 1 chaperone

 

When you bring a group to SERC for a field trip, we want to make sure that you have the best experience possible. To help you with this, here are some resources for planning your field trip, including things to do before you arrive and how to prepare your students.

Expectations

  • Prepare for weather
  • Consider commute time and traffic
  • Provide payment in full upon arrival or have arranged to remit payment within 10 days of field trip

Dividing the Group

  • Students: dependent on program activity (see downloadable PDF for instructions)
  • Chaperones
    • Grades 3-12: 1 adult per 10 students
    • Special Education: 1 adult per 5 students
    • Canoe trips require additional chaperones (see downloadable PDF for instructions)

Clothing (Students and Chaperones)

  • Prepare for weather
  • Closed shoes (toe and heel)
    • No crocs, flip flops, etc.
  • Change of clothes
  • Light jacket or raincoat (if needed)
  • Sunscreen, allergy and other medications
  • If anyone has known allergies (e.g. shellfish), please be sure to let SERC staff know at the beginning of the day

Food and Beverages

  • Water bottle
  • Lunch (food is not available at SERC)

When you bring a group to SERC for a field trip, we want to make sure that you have the best experience possible. To do this, we need your help. Please follow these short expectations:

  • Active participation during the program
  • Remain with your assigned student group at all times
  • Model kind behavior towards all animals
  • Limit phone calls and texts
  • Limit photos to before and after program
  • Wear name tags (students and chaperones)
  • Abide the maximum speed limit of 15mph on SERC's campus
  • Most activities are our outdoors
    • You may get wet
    • You may get dirty
    • You may be exposed to the sun and elements (e.g. rain, wind, etc.).
  • Closed shoes (toe and heel)
    • No crocs, flip flops, high heels, etc.

Please check back soon for information regarding field trip related activities that you can incorporate into your classroom lesson plans.