Sharks, Crabs, and other Bay Critters! Fifth Grade Studies the Biology of the Bay at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

On Friday, April 5, the Indian Creek School Class of 2026 experienced a fifth grade rite of passage: They travelled to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), in Edgewater, Maryland, donned their hip-waders, and went seining in the Rhode River to see what kind of critters live in our bay habitat.

While quite memorable, the seining activity was only part of an engaging day at SERC. The fifth graders (literally) immersed themselves in their ecology studies, learning about water run-off and watersheds, as well as the wide variety of living organisms that comprise the biology of the bay.
Students took on the role of scientists and learned about the anatomy of the famous Maryland blue crab. They visited several activity stations, visiting with a live crab, and sharing their findings. After a morning of study, the students were challenged to figure out how to track and capture blue crabs successfully.
Next, the fifth grade students were surprised to learn that there are sharks in the Chesapeake Bay. During their time at SERC, the children learned about sharks native to the Chesapeake Bay and found along the Atlantic coast. They studied Bay Shark anatomy and conducted a mock shark necropsy to determine the stomach contents of common sharks and rays in the bay. Afterwards, they viewed a preserved shark sorted shark teeth found at Calvert Cliffs, here in Maryland.
The fifth grade SERC trip was a fun hands-on culmination to the environmental studies that the students are learning about at school.