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Grades: 4- 6 (can be adapted for grades 7-8)
Group Capacity: 60 students
Time: approx. 2.5 hours per 40 students
Cost: $15 per student (no cost for adults)

|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 four volunteer/staff led stations, SERC is able to accommodate up to 60 students at a time.

> Field Trip Policies

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 > Content Standards

 > Next Generation Science Standards
1.0 PLANKTON (PLANKTON ECOLOGY LAB): (3-LS4-3)(3-LS4-4)(4-LS1-1)(5-LS2-1)(5-ESS3-1)(MS-LS1-6)(MS-LS2-4)(MS-ESS2-1) (MS-ESS3-4),

SEINING (FISH AND INVERTEBRATE LAB): (3-LS4-3)(3-LS2-2)(3-LS4-4)(4-LS1-1)(5-LS2-1)(5-ESS3-1)(MS-LS2-4)
WATER TESTING (NUTRIENT CHEMISTRY LAB): (3-LS4-3)(3-LS4-4)(4-LS1-1)(5-ESS3-1)(MS-LS2-4)(MS-LS2-4)(MS-ESS3-4)

> 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 staff/volunteer lead program. SERC will set up the stations before the group's arrival and our guides will take your students through the four stations, challenging them to answer one overarching field trip question through hands-on learning at each stop.


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> Stations

Estuary Chesapeake involves a series of four stations, all of which are aimed to answer the overarching field trip question of "What is water quality and how does it affect life in the Bay?" Your class will be divided into groups. Each group rotates through all stations and learns about the research conducted at SERC while conducting activities and answering their challenge question . The stations of Estuary Chesapeake are:

  • Water Testing (Nutrient Lab)
    Perform four water quality tests to help students understand healthy and unhealthy changes in the river, and their effects on the plants and animals in the Bay watershed.  Tests are salinity, pH, turbidity, nitrates, and depth.
  • Oyster Bar Communities (Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab)
    Investigate oyster bar communities to learn about oysters and the habitat oyster shells provide for many kinds of organisms. They will also used dissolved oxygen (DO)  meters to test DO at different depths in the water column.
  • Investigating Plankton (Plankton Ecology Lab)
    After collecting a water sample from the river, students use microscopes to observe some of the phytoplankton and zooplankton found in the Rhode River and Chesapeake Bay.
  • Seining (Fish and Invertebrate Lab)
    Catch fish with a large seine net, identifying species, and learn about the different types of fish that live in different micro-habitats of the Rhode River and Chesapeake Bay.

The Oyster and Water Testing stations are located on the dock, the Plankton Station starts at the dock and moves to the classroom, and the Seining Station is located on a sandy beach along the Java History Trail.


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> Estuary Data

Data collected on your field trip will be given to the lead teacher, and photocopied for SERC's records.

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> Resources


Other resources:
> Estuary Chesapeake's STUDENT WORKBOOK (2015 VERSION)
Exploring the Chesapeake Workbook (pdf)
This workbook is not only a good resource for kids, but for adults too!  It is jam-packed with information relating to the five stations, including background information on blue crabs, oyster communities, and water quaility testing. This resource also includes pre- and post-trip activities that can help teachers prepare students for the field trip as well as reinforcing student learning after the field trip. 

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> Scheduling

Please contact Karen McDonald, Education Program Coordinator, at or 443-482-2216 to discuss scheduling a field trip.  Please keep in mind that dates often fill up several months in advance.


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> Parent/Teacher Training Workshops
All field trips are now guided by SERC volunteers and staff, we no longer require parent/teacher training.


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> Cost

The 2015 cost for Estuary Chesapeake field trips is $15 per student (there is no charge for adults).  Please pay when you arrive or ask to be invoiced after. 

If you would like to add a canoe trip or guided hike to the Estuary Chesapeake program, the charge is $27 per student. See the attached field trip information form here.

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