Posts Tagged 'education'



Thoughtful Thursdays: The Nature of Learning

In early May, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) spent two days at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge engaging students in activities focused on climate change and its effects on the diamondback terrapin.

Partnering with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, students were led through activities including a wetland planting promoting terrapin habitat, a GPS scavenger hunt to illustrate field monitoring techniques, and a nature walk along the butterfly garden, surveying the local bird population.

Prior to this field trip, Aquarium staff visited the students in their classrooms as part of an introduction to climate change, as well as terrapin characteristics and husbandry. Schools selected to participate are part of the Aquarium’s Terrapins in the Classroom program, a head-start program in which students care for and observe a newly hatched terrapin they will ultimately release into natural habitat at the end of the school year.

All activities were made possible through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Nature of Learning grant. The Nature of Learning grant encourages educators to “use National Wildlife Refuges as outdoor classrooms to promote a greater understanding of local conservation issues.”

In all, the Aquarium engaged more than 100 students in climate change activities, while educating students on how to be stewards of the Chesapeake Bay.

You can too! The Aquarium offers habitat restoration opportunities to promote a healthy Bay. Sign up for one of our free events today! Together our actions and awareness will create a healthy environment for Maryland’s state reptile, the diamondback terrapin.

Students raise Atlantic white cedar tree saplings

The Aquarium’s Conservation Department recently traveled to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to deliver Atlantic white cedar saplings to students at Stephen Decatur Middle School and Berlin Intermediate School.

Once common in freshwater wetlands along the East Coast, Atlantic white cedars are now rare. Lumber from Atlantic white cedars is highly valued because it has water-resistant properties and is therefore ideal for use in boats, furniture, and houses. Historically, it was also used to make barrels, buckets, shingles, and railroad ties. Overharvesting of this valuable natural resource has decimated Atlantic white cedar populations, and it is now on Maryland DNR’s Watch List.

After learning about the history of Atlantic white cedars and the need to restore them, students transplanted 270 saplings into larger pots. All year the students will care for the juvenile trees in a wet frame pond at their school. Teachers from the school will help students regularly monitor the trees’ progress and learn more about freshwater wetlands. In the spring, the students will join the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT) at Nassawango Creek Preserve to plant their trees.

Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the preserve encompasses more than 10,000 acres and is home to cypress swamps and upland forests. The planting will take place in a 20-acre plot that once served as part of a Loblolly Pine plantation. It was cleared several years ago to make room for native freshwater wetland species and has been the site of four previous ACT planting events.

This project would not be possible without the support of our partners: The Nature Conservancy, Perdue Foundation, Maryland Coastal Bays, Maryland Conservation Corps, and the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. We look forward to continuing this project and fostering a sense of environmental stewardship in students by providing them with a unique hands-on experience that helps the Chesapeake Bay.

The Wetland Nursery Program goes to New York


The National Aquarium’s Wetland Nursery Program brings hands-on marsh restoration to the schoolyard—and to the far reaches of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed!

In October 2011, the Aquarium Conservation Team traveled to the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, the Chesapeake Bay’s largest freshwater source, to teach students in New York how their actions affect aquatic health all the way down in Baltimore.

Students from Chenango Forks High School in Binghampton, NY, and Ridge Road Elementary School in Horseheads, NY, worked to set up ponds at school to grow freshwater wetland plants. 

In the spring, the Aquarium will visit again to help students restore their local wetlands by planting the plants they’ve raised throughout the school year!

Education in action: Planting trees at Nassawango Creek Preserve

This spring, the Aquarium’s Conservation Team headed out to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to continue work at The Nature Conservancy’s Nassawango Creek Preserve in Wicomico and Worchester counties.

Nassawango Creek Preserve encompasses more than 10,000 acres of bald cypress swamps and upland forests. Over the past three years, we have worked with local community members and area middle school students to plant native Atlantic white cedars.

A group of 120 students from Stephen Decatur Middle School and Berlin Intermediate School participated in this year’s event. With their help, the team planted a total of 895 trees! The planting took place in a 20-acre plot that once served as part of a Loblolly Pine plantation, which was cleared five years ago with a controlled burn to make room for native freshwater wetland species.

Atlantic white cedars were once common along the East Coast in freshwater wetlands, but have been over-harvested and are now rare due to the value of the waterproof lumber they provide.

The middle school students began working with Atlantic white cedar trees in the fall of 2010. With the help of Aquarium staff, they transplanted the Atlantic white cedar saplings to larger pots, and cared for them in wet frame ponds on their school grounds over the winter. Planting the trees at the Nassawango Creek Preserve was the students’ final step in completing their project! Many of the students had grown attached to their Atlantic white cedars and took great pride in being involved in the rebuilding of a forest with native trees.

 

Continue reading ‘Education in action: Planting trees at Nassawango Creek Preserve’


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