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Grades: 4- 6 (can be adapted for grades 7-8)
Group Capacity: 80 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 five teacher/parent led stations, SERC is able to accommodate up to 80 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.  Training workshop dates are listed below.


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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 the first round of rotations to get station leaders started, and be available to support at all times.  It is the teacher's responsibility to organize adult chaperones and make sure they know about training dates.

New teachers and parents who will be leading stations are strongly encouraged to attend a pre-visit training workshop at SERC's Reed Education Center to learn about the equipment and procedures for each station. Teachers are responsible for providing a trained station leader for each of the five stations; we have a small staff and need the help of adults from your group to run the program. If possible, extra chaperones are helpful for assisting with group transitions between rotations. 


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> Stations

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

    • #1 - About Crabs
      Learn about blue crab anatomy and behavior, then try three crabbing techniques from our dock.
    • #2 - Water Testing
      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, and depth.
    • #3 - Oyster Bar Communities
      Investigate oyster bar communities to learn about oysters and the habitat oyster shells provide for many kinds of organisms.
    • #4 - Investigating Plankton
      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.
    • #5 - Seining (Going Fishing)
      Catch fish with a large seine net, identifying species, and learn about the different types of fish that live in the Rhode River and Chesapeake Bay.

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

Map of stations locations

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> Estuary Data

Data collection occurs at three of the stations: water testing, oyster bar communities, and seining.  
As of 2015, we are no longer uploading this data online.  Instead, all data collected during the field trip will be collected by SERC staff and emailed to the teacher within a few days; teachers also have the option of taking the data sheets with them.  

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> Resources

 > New!! SPRING 2015 Estuary Chesapeake TRAINING MANUALS

These two manuals are for teachers or parents who will be running a station on field trip day! These have been significantly updated since 2014 to better align to national and state science standards, so PLEASE take a look even if you have been coming here many years!
1. Estuary Chesapeake Station Leader's Manual
An in-depth guide that details the teaching points and procedure of each station. SERC research that relates to each station is also described.
2. Estuary Chesapeake Quick Reference Guide
A condensed guide that outlines each station. A great "cheat sheet" for field trip day!
> Tip for station leaders: Come prepared! Experience has shown that the better prepared the station leaders are, the more rewarding the experience is for the students. This means reading the two guides above AND coming to a training workshop!
Other resources:
> Estuary Chesapeake's STUDENT WORKBOOK 
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, School Programs 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

Estuary Chesapeake parent/teacher training workshops teach attendees what to expect on field trip day and walk them through each of the 5 stations. These are FREE and last between 1.5-2 hours.  We strongly encourage new teachers and station leaders to attend these workshops; the trip will be more successful if you are prepared!  

Please RSVP for a specific workshop date by emailing Karen McDonald

If it is not possible for parents or teachers to attend a workshop, please share the two training manuals with them so they can study on their own. Teachers also have the option of running their own workshop; contact Karen for more information.

>Estuary Chesapeake Training Workshops


Location: All workshops are held at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center at 647 Contees Wharf Road, Edgewater, MD 21037. Once on SERC property, follow signs to the Reed Education Center.

Weather policy: The workshops will be held rain or shine. Dress appropriately! In the case of extreme weather (e.g. violent thunderstorms), please call Wendy at 443-482-2216 to see if the workshop is still on.

What to expect: Training sessions consist of a brief powerpoint presentation indoors and then a demonstrative walk-through of the five stations. The workshop involves taking a short walk on a gravel trail, seining in the river wearing chest waders (you can just watch if you prefer), and standing on a floating dock for approximately 30 minutes. If you need any accomodations, please let staff know. Teachers with scheduling questions can stay after the workshop to plan with staff members.

What to wear: Dress for the weather as we will go outside in light to moderate rain. Wear clothes you don't mind getting wet or dirty as we will likely go seining in the river (you can just watch if you prefer).  Wear closed-toe shoes (this is a SERC rule) that you are comfortable walking in on a gravel path, wooden dock, and sandy areas. 

SPRING 2015 Training Dates:

         Workshop #1- Sat, March 21, 10-noon

Workshop #2- Weds, March 25, 4-6pm

Workshop #3- Tues, April 7, 11-1pm

Workshop #4- Thurs, April 23, 4-6pm

Workshop #5- Fri, May 8, 11-1pm

Workshop #6- Thurs, May 21, 11-1pm

Reminder: Please RSVP by emailing Karen McDonald.

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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.

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> Estuary Chesapeake Blog

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