ON THE SHORE - GRADES 3 - 5
Suggested Shore Programs for Grades 3 - 5
The area around Project Oceanology boasts a rich diversity of habitats and organisms. Meet our educators at a local beach, where you will meet the organisms, map out the habitats, and get your hands and feet wet as you explore the local ecology! Each program is 2.5 hours.
Location notes: Project O (Avery Pt): Rocky intertidal only; no travel time; may be combined with a lab program (see next section) Bluff Pt: Barrier beach, marsh, and rocky intertidal locations require a hike of approximately 1hr RT; nearshore fish locations do not. Pine Island: requires a skiff trip from Project O (additional fee); appropriate for smaller groups.
Nearshore Fish Study (Bluff Pt, Pine Island)
Fish use estuaries for breeding and as safe nursery areas. Your Project O instructors will deploy a huge seine net using a skiff, and your students will line up on the beach to help pull the net to shore. Next, everyone will help retrieve the fish from the net and place them in buckets of seawater. We will observe, identify, measure, and count the fish, crabs, jellies, and other organisms that we catch. We’ll also discuss how they interact with each other and with their environment. Students should come prepared to get their feet and legs wet!
Rocky Intertidal Zone Exploration (Project O, Bluff Pt, Pine Island)
The rocky shore is a rugged environment, battered by surf and changing seasons, and exposed to dramatic daily swings in temperature, salinity,and other environmental factors. Students will explore the rocky intertidal zone in search of local inhabitants and determine how they are adapted to survive in such a harsh environment. We’ll find and learn about crabs, snails, barnacles, seaweeds, amphipods, and more!
Barrier Beach Field Study (Bluff Pt)
Carried by waves, currents, and wind, beach sands are in constant motion. Students will hike about a mile to the end of Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton to the barrier beach. Students will measure elevation, percent cover of vegetation, and sediment type and layering along a transect running across the barrier beach from the Sound to a protected salt pond. Out on the bluff while looking at the spectacular view across Long Island and Fishers Island Sounds, students will learn about local geology and the glacial history of Long Island Sound. Ask about our follow-up ‘Color Me Beach’ activity!
Beach Clean-Up/Marine Debris (Any location)
The oceans are increasingly impacted by garbage, particularly plastics. Students will participate in a beach clean-up, and learn about how debris in the ocean affects the organisms living there. We’ll measure and categorize our trash, participate in a global marine debris citizen science effort by logging our trash through the Cleanswell app on tablets, and discuss ways to keep trash away from our shores.
Salt Marsh Exploration (Bluff Pt or Barn Island Wildlife Management Area)
Marshes are among the most delicate and important habitats in our area. Using energy from the sun, healthy marsh grasses produce nearly ten tons of organic matter per acre per year. These nutrients promote the growth of marine organisms, and marshes are important nursery areas for off-shore animals. Many marine waterfowl use the marsh for nesting and breeding. Students will explore the marsh, identifying plants and animals and learning about the physical and biological structure of this important habitat. We’ll leap a mosquito ditch, take a sample of marsh peat, measure peat depth, and discuss ecosystem services provided by marshes. Ask about our follow-up ‘Color Me Marsh’ activity!
Other Grade 3 - 5 Programs