SERC.. a wonderful Smithsonian Adventure STEM Science on the River

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One of my favorite field trips, is not too far away from DC. It is environmental , historical, beautiful, and all STEM and STEAM. It links the students and parents to the Chesapeake Bay in wonderful and unforgettable ways. Parents want to go, and take workshops to qualify to go on the trip. What is great is that those parents also create the possibility for re-visits. It is just that great a place.

What

We begin the year planning to write grants to cover the cost for all students.
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I like to do a covered dish orientation for parents and their families about the Chesapeake Bay. I ask them to bring in dishes from around the Chesapeake Bay and one copy of their recipe. We eat, we have fun singing and making up Chesapeake Bay Cinquains.
We create a year-long committee to plan the SERC trip/
We display books, posters and resources about the Chesapeake Bay and share the information about SERC. We share their Powerpoint.

I have an invited speaker from Fish and Wildlife, NSF , National Geographic , ESRI or Earthwatch.

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
(SERC) leads the Nation in research on linkages
of land and water ecosystems in the coastal zone and provides society with knowledge to meet critical environmental challenges
in the 21st century.

Where

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Why should you go?

This is a place that serves lots of learning communities.

There are programs for various age groups , internships, and serious scientific work going on.
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GPS, GIS comes to urban students in a neighborhood setting

ESRI , and National Geographic provide resources for all.

This is one of the most interesting, fascinating place to take children to learn about the environment. There is a fully equipped lab with lessons and things for them to learn, and there are several hiking trails. The children love the learning activities especially the seining, which is one of several exercises that they learn about before they come.4894_115870586326_2833140_n

They go out on a pier with a leader and do several exercises, a turbidity study, a study of microscope things in the Rhode River, the study of winds and tides.. the seining activity.. and they carefully take notes on their findings.
I combine this work with the “Living in Water”curriculum from the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

http://www.amazon.com/Living-Water-Aquatic-Science-Curriculum/dp/0787243663
The geography of and interconnection of the places around the bay are highlighted in this interactive presentation.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/chesapeake/interactive/index.html?s1=0|timePeriod=1|tourStop=0
We use a map and mark the various locations. We do some of the locations from time to time. We also have a table full of books on the Chesapeake Bay.
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The center is a beautiful wild place away from the main road on the river.

Teachers and parents have to do a workshop which is shared here. http://estuarychesapeake.wordpress.com This is from the website( About Estuary) Chesapeake Estuary Chesapeake is SERC’s most popular education program and involves a series of five stations at SERC’s dock and the Java History Trail. The class is divided into 5 groups that each rotate through all stations.

The five stations of Estuary Chesapeake are: About Crabs, Water Testing, Oyster Bar Community, Investigating Plankton, and Going Fishing (seining). For parents and teachers there on the site a training presentation powerpoint.

Check out the Parent/Teacher Training Presentation — this powerpoint teaches you all you need to know about SERC, the Estuary Chesapeake program, and how to be a Station Leader.

Stations

About Crabs Using hand lines and a hand trap, students catch their own crabs and study them to learn about their anatomy and behavior. Crab habitat is also discussed. Resources are shared so that leaders can have good information to share with students from the Estuary Chesapeake Manual about the crab station, and for Blue Crab talking points.
Here are most of the Blue Crab Talking Points

Station 1: About Crabs

Learn ways to catch crabs and study
their anatomy and behavior
.
Background
The blue crab is a well known inhabitant of the Chesapeake Bay. Crabs can tolerate water that ranges from very salty to nearly fresh and are well-suited to live in the ever-changing salinity of the estuary. Because they are abundant and also a popular food, they are an important commercial and recreational resource.
Most often crabs act as predators and eat live clams, fish, and other crabs.However, they also act as scavengers by eating dead organisms, which helps to clean up the Bay. They will eat bait such as raw chicken and can be caught with baited lines, collapsible traps,and commercial traps.The abundance of crabs varies seasonally.
In April they begin to enter rivers and creeks, and,throughout the summer, they increase in numbers at these locations. In the fall they go to warmer, deeper Bay waters, where they burrow into the sand.
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Key Points to Emphasize
Parts of the crab include the shell, abdomen, mouth, eye stalk, claws, swim paddles, and walking legs.
Crabs are both predators and scavengers.Crabs swim, however they spend most of their time on the floor of the Bay.
A crab can be identified as female or male by the appearance of its abdomen. The shape
of a male’s abdomen resembles the shape of the Washington Monument. An immature
female’s abdomen is triangular shaped. Once matured,she carries her eggs in her abdomen and therefore a mature female has a wider abdomen. It has a shape similar to the shape of the Capitol Dome.

Water Quality
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Water Testing Using a variety of tests, students will measure the water quality parameters salinity, pH, turbidity, and temperature, and discuss the results. The dock where we will do our water testing is right on the Rhode River in Edgewater, MD.

Oyster Bar Community Students learn about the habitat that oyster shells provide for small crabs, fish, and invertebrates. They also will learn about oysters’ ability to filter water. (Fun fact: Oysters can filter about 50 gallons of water a day!) Investigating Plankton After completing a plankton tow from the dock, students use microscopes to observe plant and animal plankton found in the Chesapeake Bay.

Seining (Going Fishing) Donning chest waders, students wade into the water to catch fish and other organisms with a seine net.Think high waders, a big sweep of a net, and walking in the river to collect what you can.. you gotta do this. It is awesome.The students then identify the animals they find. Physiological aspects of fish anatomy are also discussed. We put the things we find back into the water.

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Mobile Devices, and Learning, a Cure for the Digital Divide?

I was first intrigued with mobile learning on a flight to Aukland, New Zealand. The small child across the aisle from me, clutched his device for every waking hour of the flight. I could not see what was on the device, I know it was an Apple IPhone. I was too polite to ask what it was that he was using on the phone… In countless planes, trains and even in an automobile, the problem of boredom seemed to be reduced. The mobile device seems to have solved those types of problems. To think of the power of Mobile look at this infographic . It is a good digital display of what is happening.

Some information on the trends  about mobile devices. And here is an infographic on the state of digital education. You won’t believe your eyes.

The Horizon Report and other futuring reports include the use of mobile devices.

It won't replace you, it will enhance the learning environment!

Mobile Devices

At a visit to the National Geographic I had to pay attention to the device that was questioning me about my geographic knowledge. The device was counting answers and giving instantaneous feedback.

But are what mobile devices are  allowed in schools? Are the powerful intersections of visualization, powerful content and models being kept away from the classroom? STEM resources are mostly available in imagery, visualization , modeling and embedded assessment, online.

In her Mindshift Blog, Tina Barsegihan states:

One of the most exciting things about living in the digital age is witnessing huge cultural changes occur in real time.

We’re at just that point now with mobile learning. Whether it’s on an e-reader, a tablet, or a cell phone, there’s great excitement — though not a lot of research yet — around the potential of how these devices can strengthen learning.

“There are frontiers that we’re just beginning to learn how to reach.”

“What if your mobile device had a sixth sense?” asked Harvard professor Chris Dede, who’s researching the diverse dimensions of mobile learning, at the recent ISTE conference.

When most of us consider education, we think of learning happening in isolated places — schools. But mobile devices are upending that assumption. With innovations like augmented reality, different kinds of information and experiences can be superimposed onto the real world, complementing and adding another dimension to “formal” learning institutions.

Pilot programs are springing up all over the country (more on those soon), as educators and researchers determine what kind of learning can happen best with mobile devices.

“We know from generations of work that devices are catalysts,” Dede said. “The device never produces learning, but when coupled with changes in content, new forms of assessment, linking people together, that’s what enables learning.”

Chis Dede talks about mobile learning : ” Learning a variety of content and skills anytime, anyplace wit a small device light enough to be carried in one hand.” Chis Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard University

Jason Ohler.” Virtual learning and the availability of digital content have changed to offer more methods of student engagement, increased customization of learning objects, open resources, and personalized education..

Imaging the Universe, You can't do that with a book

Learning using visual Imagery

Digital citizenship is impossible until we help students live one life instead two. Right now they live two—a digitally unplugged life at school and digitally deluged life outside school. Having them bring their devices to school is a great first step in creating a reality-based environment for the discussion of digital citizenship. But what do we do about those students who have nothing to bring?posted by Jason Ohler
May 19, 2011

” Learning in the 21st Century, Taking it Mobile“ was a conference I attended about a year ago.. We know that the policy, process and technology infrastructures that are adopted over the next few years will shape education for decades. We also know that the lack of broadband is a problem in many places in the US. We have been talking about 21stCentury adaptations and transformation for many years. It is still a goal. . Many think the devices will change the learning landscape and equalize access.

DIGITAL DIVIDE

There is a dark side of the digital divide without broadband. Everyone assumes that people can access high powered sites. The FCC is busy working to create broadband for all but the realization of this will probably be a long time in coming. The sad part of this is the lack of classroom access in some parts of the US. We are told the new E-rate will help to solve this, but it is a BIG problem. Sometimes the people who need access most are out of sight , out of mind.

We had a big discussion on the District of Columbia schools and what the teachers were or were not accomplishing, but no one questioned their lack of technology support in training, in devices, and in content integration. Quietly, the discussions are going on in various school systems, but there is no conclusion as to what really works. 

Teaching online , anywhere anytime, Henry Neeman does outreach to all from Oklahoma

Reaching out to involve students and faculty in Supercomputing

As mobile devices become ubiquitous, students are using then to facilitate learning and enhance productivity in and out of school.  There are roadblocks, but the most difficult to solve is the disconnect of access. After that, there is the concerns about cyberbullying and creating a platform of use that is reflective of the purposes of the task in education.

At the conference we mulled over these questions and they stay with me still.

The Digital Divide is always a question.

What do mobile wireless devices contribute as a platform for bringing education innovation and best practices to scale?

What do mobile wireless devices contribute as an enabler of innovative powerful methods for teaching and learning?

How can we complement the current educational infrastructure( computers, wires) with the emerging wireless mobiles, cloud based infrastructure? What are key challenges in financing, implementation and policy?

How can we plan to accommodate the rapid evolution of mobile devices?

How would you answer these questions?

Moblie Device at Blue Waters Kiosk at NSF Expo ExhibitMobile Devices capture the attention of students. who have never seen or used these devices before. This is outreach for the Teragrid.

Research, 2010 and Our Future, Students Speak Up about Their Vision for 21st Century Learninghttp://www.tomorrow.org/

Edutopia 

The Internet is an astonishing source of educational resources: Lesson plans, classroom-product reviews, and even psychological support for those dark days when your students (or your coworkers) are straining your mental balance are only a Google search away. The trick, however, is getting that pipeline of online information flowing throughout your school, including directly into classroom PCs. Computers are often centralized in a media center, building codes can be prohibitive for setting up a broadband feed, and most schools are short-changed when it comes necessary tech support.

Here is a recipe for wireless access for those on the digital dirt road or for the understanding of those who did not get to attend the conference from the George Lucas Educational Foundation that is a how to.. The project is entitled the Digital Generation.

Welcome to the Digital Generation

http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-project-overview-video


What Devices?

There are a lot of devices that can be included in this discussion. The ones I know are,mobile and associated technologies, smart phones, IPod, IPhones, Netbooks, digital clickers, chargers and battery packs ,mobile interactive whiteboards.


Wireless to the Rescue

http://www.edutopia.org/tech-teacher-wireless-rescue


Taking it Mobile

Access to smartphones has more than tripled among high school students since 2006, according to a survey report from Project Tomorrow®, a national education nonprofit organization, and Blackboard Inc.

The report ,Learning in the 21st Century: Taking it Mobile!shows that students now view the inability to use their own devices in school, such as cell phones, smart phones, MP3 players, laptops or net books, as the primary barrier to a successful digital education. The various reports can be found here.

Can we Change the Digital Divide with Mobile Devices?

The FCC Chairman indicated in his discussions early in the year that Digital Tools may be the solution to the digital divide

Mobile Divide…. What Can we Learn about Making a Difference with Mobile Technology?

Philosophy of the Mobile Divide In the US

Mobile Digital Divide– According to a new study on U.S. consumers and mobile from the Pew Research Center, an unprecedented 60% of adults in the U.S. access go online wirelessly, whether by laptop or cell phone. Two factors are driving this trend, and shaking up any preconceived notions about America’s digital divide.

Finding #1:“Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87% vs. 80%) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of their phones’ features compared with white mobile phone users. In total, 64% of African-Americans access the internet from a laptop or mobile phone, a seven-point increase from the 57% who did so at a similar point in 2009.”

Finding #2: “Young adults (those ages 18-29) are also avid users of mobile data applications, but older adults are gaining fast. Compared with 2009, cell phone owners ages 30-49 are significantly more likely to use their mobile device to send text messages, access the internet, take pictures, record videos, use email or instant messaging, and play music.”

What’s driving more Blacks and Hispanics, and older adults, to mobile?

According to Pew spokesman Aaron W. Smith, increased mobile web usage is driven by two key factors: age and economics. A younger demo with an annual income of $30,000 or less a year has jumped in usage, and African-Americans and Hispanics are younger and have less money than the general white population.

Mobile is thus bridging the digital gap between the traditional distinction of haves and have-nots, and while it’s a positive trend, it’s still a gap between those with cellphone-only access and those with computers as well.

About 18% of African-Americans use a cellphone as their sole device for Internet access compared to about 10% of whites. That said, laptop ownership has risen from 34% in 2009 to a current 51% among African-Americans.

Overall, 59% of Americans now access the Internet through mobile devices as opposed to 51% a year ago. So mobile may prove to be the ultimate equalizer, at least on the digital playing field.

Other interesting facts from the study reveal that Americans are using their mobile devices to (as ranked by Pew’s latest stats vs. April 2009)

The most interesting discussions are about the way in which wireless can be deployed. Bring your own wireless, netbooks using the cloud, and a variety of ways to solve the digital divide were proposed.

This from Mindshift

Bring-your-own-device classrooms. Since most kids these days already have access to a mobile device, schools are seizing the opportunity to turn these gadgets from distractions into learning tools by incorporating these devices into classroom lessons and projects. From mobile phones to laptop computers, teachers and students are increasingly bringing technology to the classroom, and in many school districts, it’s being put to good use.Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of one-to-one computing programs in raising test scores and increasing college attendance, but with many districts strapped for cash and unable to provide devices for each student, this isn’t always a possibility. The solution may be found in asking students to bring their own devices to class, cutting back on the number of mobile devices the school needs to provide while still enhancing the learning experience.

What have mobile devices go to do with STEM and changing education in America?

Eliot Soloway ”

Are cellphones and other mobile devices powerful learning tools or intolerable classroom distractions?

For Elliot Soloway, the answer is a no-brainer. Cellphones, hand-held gaming gadgets, and netbooks—all relatively cheap, seemingly ever-present mobile devices used (and often abused) by today’s teenagers—can engage middle and high school students in learning inside and outside of school, he and other advocates of mobile learning say.”

STEM Applications you can’t replicate by talking or lecturing.

Windows to the Universe  ,Windows to the Universe explores the Earth, planets of our solar system, and the universe. It includes images, animations, and data sets, and information about books .

The Exploratorium,The Exploratorium isn’t just a museum; it’s an ongoing exploration of science, art, and human perception—a vast collection of online interactives, web features, activitiesprograms, and events that feed your curiosity.

Project Lead the Way

The PLTW Innovation Zone (aka the classroom) is an engaging and thought-provoking place, where students develop critical thinking skills through hands-on project-based learning, preparing them to take on real-world challenges. Students will have the opportunity to create, design and build things like robots and cars, applying what they are learning in math and science to the world’s grand challenges.

The PLTW program is designed to serve middle school and high school students of diverse backgrounds from those already interested in STEM-related fields to those who are more inspired by the application of STEM than they are by traditional math and science courses.

Whyville ,
What does it take to build a sustainable, green energy community? 8th Graders are showing us how using WhyPower, an interactive learning game within the largest interactive learning world, WhyVille. Here is an interactive game. http://www.poweracrosstexas.org/projects/whypower-interactive-game

Energy Game:  WHYPOWER

Whyville is a thriving community with its own economy, newspaper, government and much more.  It now has its own power grid!  As part of the WhyCareers program, we are “electrifying” Whyville with a power grid that uses traditional and renewable energy sources.  Students will manage the power grid to select the right mix of coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar and wind energy. They will build homes in Whyville!  They will observe and measure power use in Whyville, and form good energy behaviors and habits. Finally, they will explore the math, science and career topics related to energy.  Just like in real life, success in Whyville is not pre-programmed!  Students skill, initiative, creativity and teamwork determines the rewards they receive and the “virtual money” they earn in WhyPower.
Whyville. Run a city using energy reources.

National Geographic FieldScope is a web-based mapping, analysis, and collaboration tool designed to support geographic investigations and engage students as citizen scientists investigating real-world issues – both in the classroom and in outdoor education settings. FieldScope enhances student scientific investigations by providing rich geographic context – through maps, mapping activities, and a rich community where student fieldwork and data is integrated with that of peers and professionals, adding analysis opportunities and meaning to student investigations.

NG FieldScope

  • uses cutting-edge technology to make interactive mapping and geospatial data analysis tools accessible to students via the web in an intuitive package that is free and does not require software installation.
  • enables students and classrooms to upload their own field data – including quantitative measurements, field notes, and media, such as photos – and to see it in relation to data from peers and professional scientists.
  • fosters collaborative sharing and analysis of data among the FieldScope community and beyond.

National Geographic is partnering with groups – across a range of scientific disciplines – that are interested in exploring how FieldScope can better support student geographic learning and outdoor investigations.

FieldScope Projects

Chesapeake Bay

http://www.serc.si.edu/education/resources/bluecrab/index.aspxThe Chesapeake Bay FieldScope Project is a “citizen science” initiative in which students investigate water quality issues on local and regional scales and collaborate with students across the Bay to analyze data and take action. Chesapeake Bay FieldScope is a project of National Geographic’s Education Programs in collaboration with theChesapeake Bay Foundation and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.

Online Labs

http://sharingtree.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/onlinelabs-in-virtual-laboratory-simulations-for-science-education/

Resource from the Federal Trade Commission

Admongo.gov kids learn critical thinking skills and apply them to understanding advertising.

It is an on line game.

Digital Citizenship

Living Life Online   there is a book available from the FTC that accompanies this project as a digital citizenship iniative. Bulk orders are available at bulkorder.ftc.gov

Julia Barnathan (standing), curriculum developer for Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships, assists a student with a lesson in radiation that uses iLabs to access a geiger counter at the University of Queensland, Australia.
CREDIT: Amanda Morris, Office for Research, Northwestern University

Studying the Chesapeake Bay, Using Digital Resources and the Arts!!

Exploring the Chesapeake Bay
Children who may not know the way of estuaries to the sea can learn using valuable online resources.
I use a different way of teaching. Marc Prensky is right. There are people who know a lot more than I do about the Chesapeake Bay.I became the facilitator for learning, connecting the dots and some of them were using the arts , digital media and hands on science by mistake really. I had training from the National Geographic which included maps, history, art and a great video.
I wanted to think how to fund all of this and how to create a rich environment . I wrote some grants, the parents and I had a meeting and we enlisted some help from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Chesapeake Bay is the most important water way in this area. I took courses at the National Aquarium in Baltimore , and learned to write curriculum  . For three years I investigated

estuaries, and then the Bay as a system and then the ocean. I think I would have become a Marine Biologist if I had not been swayed by technology and the Clinton administration. But I had the curriculum , but as usual not the permission to use it at my grade level and so I reached out to NASA, NOAA, National Geographic, the Chesapeake Bay Society and parents and I found a way to get a grant. When money is given in schools and principals sign their permission , you can do wonderful things.
The final trip was ito Baltimore
We started by sharing resources from the Fish and Wildlife Service
We did Duck Stamps. We drew Duck Stamps  and learned about the various ducks who come to the Chesapeake Bay.
Here is a set of photos and resources from the Fish and Wildlife Service
http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/  The people who came from the Fish and Wildlife Service brought posters and resources too.
The Fish and Wildlife people gave us a bus to the Blackwater facility. We saw ducks in the wild and had an outdoor excursion.
National Aquarium in Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a beautiful place. It is expensive for students and we decided to do a bus tour.
Thank heavens for grants.
The education program is fantastics, we did adaptations and studied the salinity, turbidity waves and tides, microscopic life , seined and did pollution studies from different sites on the Chesapeake.But we did our homework. We read stories about the CHesapeake Bay, and wrote some of our own. We studied the maps of the bay and the estuary.
Smithsonian Estuary Research Center
You can see that we did a lot of work at this research center, before we had our “Eat a Crab Lab” and other activities
3.   About Crabs – Lesson 1
…ere the River Meets the Sea: Exploring Life in the Chesapeake Bay with Smithsonian Scientists SERC Project Home Page Project Team Members Activities & Lesson Plans Project Resources Photo Gallery S E R C Schenectady City School District +————-+—————-+———– Lesson About Index Crabs Lesson Worksheet 108 1 Education Drive Schenectady, NY 12303 Blue Setting Crab Up A SERC: 518.370.8100 Observation Salt Tales of the Water Blue Crab Aquarium About Crabs Lesson No. 1 OBJECTIVES: 1. Students will use the Internet to learn about the Blue Crab. 2. Students will be able to identify the…
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    Grade Level: K-5
4.   About Crabs
Where the River Meets the Sea: Exploring Life in the Chesapeake Bay with Smithsonian Scientists SERC Project Home Page Project Team Members Activities & Lesson Plans Project Resources Photo Gallery S E R C Schenectady City School District Lesson About 108 Index Crabs Lesson Worksheet Education II 1 Drive Schenectady, NY 12303 Blue Setting 518.370.8100 Crab Up A SERC: Observation Salt Tales of the Water Blue Crab Aquarium About Crabs Lesson No. 2 OBJECTIVES: 1. Students will observe a live Blue Crab. 2. Students will be able to distinguish between a male and fema…
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    Grade Level: 9-12
That service has a portable traveling lesson. I can’t think it is as exciting as being at the place.
If you look at the pictures you can see how fantastic it is. The children go out on a pier where there are stations . They have science experiments to perform.  We learned the data we needed to do the experiments back in the classroom.
One of my students surprised me. Since we were so early in the year in the crab season. I said if they caught a crab I would
buy a bushel to steam back at the school. Well this child had a plan. Her mother was a biologist. She captured an immature
stage of the crab and precisely identified it.  So we did have an eat a crab lab extra session.
The National Geographic had maps of the Chesapeake Bay and we took a canoe trip on one of the rivers we studied.
Blackbirds in the reeds, a smooth adventure.
National Geographic is partnering with groups – across a range of scientific disciplines – that are interested in exploring how FieldScope can better support student geographic learning and outdoor investigations.

FieldScope Projects  http://www.fieldscope.org/

This is awesome.

National Geographic FieldScope is a web-based mapping, analysis, and collaboration tool designed to support geographic investigations and engage students as citizen scientists investigating real-world issues – both in the classroom and in outdoor education settings. FieldScope enhances student scientific investigations by providing rich geographic context – through maps, mapping activities, and a rich community where student fieldwork and data is integrated with that of peers and professionals, adding analysis opportunities and meaning to student investigations.

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay FieldScope Project is a “citizen science” initiative in which students investigate water quality issues on local and regional scales and collaborate with students across the Bay to analyze data and take action. Chesapeake Bay FieldScope is a project of National Geographic’s Education Programs in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.
Serc does on line teaching for everyone. But I did it from the Pier and Reed Center.
Marc Haddon was my contact for a long time there.

See the  SERC Lab
This was a teacher workshop
Art was mosaics, writing a play about the bay, drawing the animals of the bay, creating a workbook for people who loved the bay, and writing a grant, the kids did this, to be able to take field trips to photograph the bay.
I never knew that there was a  boating minority connection to the study of the Chesapeake Bay regarding Frederick Douglass.
He created with others , a boat building facility for blacks to be able to be involved in the shipbuilding enterprise.
Who knew?
We collected books and read them about the bay and its children.
In the end we loved best the study of Anoxia Mae.
We wrote a grant with the help of parents and had $5000.oo to spend on field trips, excursions, making movies and posters.
This was at Ashlawn School  in Arlington, Virginia.
We did a lot more than this. One of the things you learn from being a teacher trained by the National Geographic is that children with an interest in geography learn and share with the community. So my children went to the school board to complain about the filth in local streams, and got some help on organizing a clean up day with the Arlington County  Board.
I did not plan that idea. The kids did. You can see why theme based, supported project based learning is wonderful for students.
I am thankful for the training I had at the National Geographic Society as an educator.
If I was teaching now, in a classroom, I could add the GIS information to this program.
ESRI and the National Geographic help make for a rich learning experience for kids.
More resources for everyone are at My Wonderful World .org.