(ST MICHAELS, MD – November 19, 2016)
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. recently welcomed third-grade students from St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Md. for a collaborative program exploring the biology, ecology, and environment of Chesapeake Bay oysters. The St. Paul’s students began a yearlong exploration of Bay oysters through an in-school assembly and visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
While at CBMM, each third-grade class adopted an oyster cage, examined the biodiversity of their oyster ecosystem, and measured the average size of spat growing within their cage. Students also explored the cultural background of oystering, climbing through the cabin of the historic skipjack EC Collier, and trying their hand at tonging for oysters.
The collaborative oyster cage adoption program emphasizes environmental literacy, biology, social studies, and hands-on experiences to help students explore the impact and influence of the oyster on the Chesapeake Bay’s environment and culture. Over the winter, the St. Paul’s students will consider the impact of real-time environmental changes on this keystone species, synthesizing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System which measures salinity, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen—all critical factors for oyster survival. Students will make predictions about the health of their oyster cages, and return in the spring to assess the accuracy of their hypotheses.
“It’s clear that the St. Paul’s community understands the importance of making a commitment to improving our environs, especially our Chesapeake Bay watershed. And it’s up to every one of us to ensure our children understand as well,” commented St. Paul’s Problem Based Learning Teacher Michael May. “The folks at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum have provided both innovative nautical science curricula and incredible ecological venues for us to succeed in reaching our goal; we are most appreciative of their work!”
The collaborative project was made possible by the Chesapeake Bay Trust K-12 Environmental Education Mini Grant Program, which emphasizes meaningful outdoor learning experiences for students surrounding an important watershed issue. The year-long project will culminate for the St. Paul’s students with a spring boat trip at CBMM to plant the carefully-tended oysters on a sanctuary in the Miles River.