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Grades: 4- 6
Group Capacity: 90 students
Time: At least 2 hours per 50 students
Cost: $15 per student

|Introduction | Content Standards | Logistics and Flow | Stations | 

Estuary Data | Resources | Scheduling |
Training Workshops | Costs | Blog

> Introduction

Estuary Chesapeake is a hands-on program in which
4th through 6th grade students explore
the living and non-living parts of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

The strength of the Estuary Chesapeake program is rooted in its capacity to deliver a comprehensive outdoor experience focused on an ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. Because Estuary Chesapeake involves a series of five teacher/parent led stations, SERC is able to accommodate up to 90 students at a time. SERC provides curriculum and materials, as well as on-site training to help teachers and parents prepare for the field trip. 

To find all Estuary Chesapeake resources and the latest information all in one place, visit the blog, All materials and details are organized in one place, plus videos, articles, lessons, discussions, and much more, all at your fingertips. The blog also features an archive of downloadable data collected by students, which can be used for comparison studies after the trip. Receive email notifications with blog updates by "following" with your email address or a wordpress account.

> Brochure (Printable PDF)

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 > Content Standards

 > Maryland Content Standards
1.0 Skills & Processes: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 1.5.4, 1.5.5, 1.5.6,
1.5.7, 1.5.8, 1.5.9, 1.5.11, 1.5.14
2.0 Earth/Space Science: 2.5.12
3.0 Life Science: 3.5.2, 3.5.5, 3.5.6, 3.5.7, 3.5.8, 3.5.9,
3.5.12, 3.5.13
6.0 Environmental Science: 6.5.2, 6.5.3, 6.5.4, 6.5.5

 > Virginia Standards of Learning 
Scientific Investigation, Reason & Logic: 4.1, 5.1, 5.6
Living Systems: 4.5
Interrelationships in Earth/Space systems: 4.6. 5.6, 5.7
Resources: 4.8

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> Logistics and Flow

Estuary Chesapeake is a parent and teacher-led program. SERC will set up the stations before the group's arrival, provide all adults with an updated schedule with times for rotations, assist with initial rotations, and be available to facilitate and support at all times.  It is the teacher's responsibility to organize adult chaperones and student groups.

New teachers are required to attend a pre-visit training workshop at SERC to learn about the equipment and procedures for each station. The teacher is then responsible for providing a trained station leader for each of the five stations. If possible, extra chaperones are helpful for assisting with group transitions between rotations. 

The "For Teachers" section of the Estuary Chesapeake blog is very helpful for the planning stages of the field trip.

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> Stations

Estuary Chesapeake involves a series of five stations. The class is divided into 5 groups. Each group rotates through all stations. The five stations of Estuary Chesapeake are:

    • About Crabs
      Learn ways to catch crabs and study their anatomy and behavior.

    • Water Testing: 
      Perform a series of water quality tests that help to understand healthy and unhealthy changes in the river, which affect the plants and animals seen in other stations.

    • Oyster Bar Community
      Investigating an oyster community to learn about oysters and the habitat oyster shells provide for many kinds of organisms.

    • Investigating Plankton
      After completing a plankton tow from the dock, students will use microscopes to observe some of the phyto- and zooplankton found in the Chesapeake Bay.

    • Seining (Going Fishing)
      Catching fish with a large seine net, identifying species, and learning about fish anatomy

Stations 1, 2, and 3 are located on SERC's dock on the Rhode River. Station 4 starts on the dock and then moves to the classroom for microscopy. Station 5 is located on a seining beach along the Java History Trail.

Map of stations locations

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> Estuary Data

All data collected on the day of the field trip is archived on the Estuary Chesapeake blog. Open access to this data allows teachers to integrate the data into lessons before and after the field trip. Teachers and students can look at this data before the trip to make predictions about what types of organisms they will see, or after to draw conclusions about the health of the Rhode River. They may compare with other field trips' data to pull out observable patterns.

Data is organized by "past school data" and the most recent season. Click the links below to check out the archived data.

Past School Data

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> Resources

 > Estuary Chesapeake Manual 

This manual provides the scientific background for the investigations and describes the procedures and equipment for each Estuary Chesapeake station. Before visiting SERC, teachers and station leaders need to learn about the activities at the stations of which they are responsible. Experience has shown that the better prepared the teachers and station leaders are, the more rewarding the experience is for the students.
EVERYTHING related to Estuary Chesapeake can be found at this website:  Estuary Chesapeake Blog

Below are individual downloads of the same files offered on the Estuary Chesapeake Blog


  1.  Station 1: About Crabs 
  2.  Station 2: Water Testing 
  3.  Station 3: Oyster Bar Community 
  4.  Station 4: Investigating Plankton
  5.  Station 5: Going Fishing 

 > Student Workbook for the Estuary Chesapeake program 

This 47-page student workbook can be used for pre- and post-trip activities for the Estuary Chesapeake field trip. The workbook includes information, activities, and puzzles on subjects such as SERC environmental research, estuaries, the Chesapeake Bay, watersheds, fish, blue crabs, oyster-bar communities, plankton, food webs, weather, water quality, and salinity. 
Exploring the Chesapeake Workbook (pdf) (47 pages).

 > SERC Video Vault 

The blog occasionally features videos from the SERC Video Vault that connect to Estuary Chesapeake concepts. Some are geared towards training station leaders, and others focus on estuarine ecological topics. Follow the blog to find out when new videos are released.

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>Download the complete guide:
   Estuary Chesapeake Manual (pdf) (39 pages).
> Download the separate chapters (pdf):
> Scheduling

To schedule a field trip, fill out a Field Trip Registration Request form, and send it as an email attachment to Wendy Van Norden to let us know when you would like to come. After we receive the form, education staff will contact you to discuss dates and confirm your field trip. 

First-time teachers to SERC must make reservations after August 1 for the coming year; returning teachers may make reservations up to one year in advance.

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> Parent/Teacher Training Workshops

Estuary Chesapeake pre-trip workshops are for teachers and station leaders. Stations are led by teachers, parents, guardians, and other adults who accompany the field trip. A pre-visit workshop is required for new teachers. We strongly encourage station leaders to also attend these workshops. 

The pre-visit workshops are free and the more prepared the station leaders are, the better the field trip experience for the students.  If it is not possible for parents to attend a workshop, the Parent/Teacher Training Powerpoint Presentation can be downloaded and shown at the school or viewed at home. Visit the blog for all downloadable documents.

>Estuary Chesapeake Training Workshops

There is no charge for this workshop, but participants must pre-register by contacting Wendy Van Norden

All workshops are held at the
Reed Education Center on SERC Campus, located at:
647 Contees Wharf Road, Edgewater, MD 21037. 

At the training workshops, new teachers get a chance to talk logistics with staff. Training sessions consist of an indoor powerpoint presentation introducing some estuarine ecology, and a demonstrative walk-through of the five stations. At the end of each session parents should have an idea of which station they will lead, and will have all the information and resources needed to be prepared.

FALL 2014 Training Dates:

Weds, Sept. 10, 4-6pm
Thurs, Sept. 18, 11-1pm
Thurs, Sept. 25, 11-1pm
Sat, Sept. 27, 10-noon
Tues, Sept. 30, 10:30-12:30pm
Weds, Oct. 8, 4-6pm 


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> Cost

The cost per student for Estuary Chesapeake field trips in 2014-2015 is $15.  Please pay when you arrive. There is no charge for teachers and station leaders.

The Teachers' Corner has information on available grants that might help cover part of your field trip expenses.

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> Estuary Chesapeake Blog

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