Posts Tagged 'environmental education'

A Blue View: Talking to Kids about the Environment

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

November 15, 2013: Talking to Kids about the Environment

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and Heather discuss
the importance of effectively communicating
environmental issues to kids. 

Kids are curious, and want to soak up all the knowledge they can about our natural world. (Did you know? More than one third of the average first words for babies are names of animals!)

Yet, the approach one needs to take in order to effectively communicate about the environment is very different depending on the age. To avoid an overwhelming fear of large ecological problems such as oil spills or rain forest destruction – also known as “ecophobia” – parents and educators should first teach kids all there is to love about the environment and its many animal inhabitants.

Click here to listen to Heather describe how establishing an early love of the natural world can make a lasting impact in YOUR kid’s life! 

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Thoughtful Thursdays: Promoting Environmental Education in Baltimore

Masonville Cove is an Urban Wilderness Conservation Area and environmental education center that is creating habitat and educating residents right in Baltimore City. This site was reclaimed as waterfront access through a series of community enhancements carried out by the Maryland Port Administration as mitigation for the adjacent Dredged Material Containment Facility. More than 3,000 students per year pass through the doors of the Environmental Education Center, operated by Living Classrooms Foundation since 2009; as of October, 2012 the facility is open to the public!

This week the center is hosting its annual Environmental Education Festival for area 5th grade students, and the National Aquarium will be on site to lead them in planting salt bush shrubs along a living shoreline. Nearly 200 children will split their time between educational activities and planting a collective 300 shrubs. This will help control erosion along the water as well as provide valuable habitat for the critters that call Masonville Cove home.

masonville cove

Local students planting along the shoreline at Masonville Cove.

In addition to the shrubs, this living shoreline will also be the new home to four thousand marsh grasses grown as part of our Wetland Nursery program. Students from Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary Middle School have been caring for the wetland grasses in ponds on their school grounds since last fall, and finally have the chance to make them part of the restoration of their own local cove!

Now the Cove needs your help! If you want to have a hand in the restoration, join us on Saturday, June 22nd for a volunteer Field Day! Activities will include marsh grass planting and debris cleanup along the shore, as well as native garden maintenance and bird box installation. The event is family-friendly, however the minimum age is 10 and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

A Blue View: The Chesapeake Bay as a Classroom

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

April 10, 2013: The Chesapeake Bay as a Classroom

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John share ways locals
of all ages can get to know the Chesapeake Bay!

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation offers a variety of opportunities for all ages—students and adults—to learn about the Bay throughout the year. From field programs to professional development opportunities, learn what is available here.

The 46-foot workboat Snow Goose allows students to get up-close in their study of the dynamic relationship between the Port of Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay’s Patapsco River. Serving as a classroom on water, all of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s boat programs are equipped with state-of-the-art water quality monitoring equipment, allowing groups to generate data instantaneously, including pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, chlorophyll, and other indicators to build a complete picture of the health of the river. Participants can then compare their findings to the data of professional Bay scientists through on-board wireless laptops.

Learn more about the Baltimore Harbor Program and the Snow Goose here.

Local Students Build and Manage Their Own Wetland Nursery

Through the National Aquarium’s Wetland Nursery Program, students at Hereford High School are raising wetland grasses and native fish in their own schoolyard! Students who participate in Hereford’s environmental club (HOPE) are gaining first-hand experience in project management, plant nursery operations and aquaculture systems. Read about the experience in their own words:

Finally!  Our system is up, running, and has all needed organisms to make it an ecosystem. It was a long process, but luckily we were able to learn along the way. Thanks to the help of Laura Cattell Noll from the National Aquarium, HOPE members, our advisor, and many others…without them this wouldn’t have been possible. This post covers the process it took for us to establish the AquaEcosystem at our school.

Phase One: Planning

The reconstruction process began with an inventory of what we could save from the storm. Key things we were able to recover were: the tank itself, the bioball-filter chamber, and some tubing/connectors.  From there we started calculating how much material we needed to purchase and how much money we would have to request from the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Mini-Grant Program. As soon as we received a check in the mail, the project was a-go!

Phase Two: Construction

Let’s say that for a bunch of girls, this was quite an experience. Transporting, sawing, and bolting plywood was something new! The instructions that came with the project called for a 10‘x10’ base for the bay grasses. In order for the ecosystem to fit our new greenhouse, we had to make a blueprint of a longer 4’ x 16’ frame. When that was done, we had to get some help lifting the frame into the greenhouse (it’s quite heavy!).

construction phase

Phase Three: Transplanting

Now that the bed for the plants was built, we ordered the bay grasses. It took a lot of club effort to transplant 1,200 plugs of Spartina altemiflora into larger plug sheets. Due to after school sports, it was a little rough getting everyone to come and help on one day, but over the course of a week, the job was done.

transplant phase

Phase Four: Adding Fish!

In order to prep for the fish we let the system run for a couple weeks. We faced a lot of problems with our pump. Either the breaker would trip, something would clog the tubing, water would evaporate, air would accumulate in the tubes….something! It was always something, which made it really difficult and frustrating to pinpoint the problem each time. National Aquarium staff helped explain some of the sources of our problems as well as go over basic care tips for the fish, such as what to look out for when they undergo stress, how much food to feed them, and ideal salinity levels.

adding fish

In the spring of 2013, HOPE will plant the bay grasses and release the fish in the Chesapeake Bay. To keep the members active in the project, we have a weekly fish feeding schedule!

If you are interested in helping restore wetlands in your community, check out the National Aquarium’s upcoming Conservation Events!

A Blue View: WIDECAST

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

October 23, 2012: WIDECAST 

Listen to John discuss the important work that WIDECAST does to save leatherback sea turtles! 

The National Aquarium has had a long partnership with turtle conservation network WIDECAST, particularly in Costa Rica, where the leatherback sea turtle comes ashore to nest. This species has been listed as endangered since 1970. Very little is known about the turtles’ migratory behavior, population genetics or dynamics, inherent diseases, or mortality rates.

WIDECAST gathers research through rescue operations and satellite tracking to develop programs to help save this amazing species. As part of our partnership, Aquarium staff conducts training programs for local volunteers on veterinary care and stranded animal rehabilitation. We hope that through awareness and support from the international community, the WIDECAST network can continue to grow!


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