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First Encounter with Ecology

Through an interdisciplinary collaboration, Ms. Colopy (natural sciences) and Mr. Endenich (geography) organized a trip to the Arthur Sherwood Study Center in Annapolis, MD, to introduce ecology concepts to sixth-graders. Combining the resources of a fully-equipped research vessel with the hands-on experience of flat water canoes, this program allowed young students to gain understanding and appreciation of an estuarine ecosystem.

Two students report:

On September 19th class 6a went on a one-day field trip to the Chesapeake Bay to learn about biodiversity in a specific ecosystem.

After about an hour, we arrived at the Bay, where two nice people welcomed us. First they showed and taught us about a “shape shifting bathroom” which was mostly made of wood and changes human waste into eco-friendly fertilizer. Then, we took a 10-minute walk to a river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

In little groups of 3 or 4 students we got into canoes and started going down the river using our 5 senses to detect interesting facts about our surroundings.

After a while we stopped in a marsh, becoming really quiet in order to listen to the birds. Using binoculars we spotted two bald eagles, some vultures and a great blue heron.

After that adventure we had lunch and then went on a work boat into the Chesapeake Bay.

On a map that showed lots of information we figured out our exact location and then chose a good spot to catch fish. We started fishing with a net to see what creatures we could catch. After about four minutes we all helped to pull the net in. At first we did not see any fish but at the end there were 3 crabs, 1 catfish, 1 flounder, 1 hog choker and a few other fish. All creatures were put in see-through containers with an oxygen pump so we could exam them and release them later.

After all that excitement we had to get back to the dock and return to the school in our bus. What a fantastic field trip!

Seren M. and Annabel S. (6a)

Getting ready for the adventure
Identifying birds
Going out to the Chesapeake Bay onboard the research vessel
Finding a good place to fish
Pulling in the net
Identifying the catch
Documenting the data.

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