Third Grade Watermen Explore Annapolis Maritime Museum

Ask any member of the Indian Creek School Class of 2029, and they will list several reasons why they love living by the Chesapeake Bay: “Boating!” “Swimming!” “Fishing with my grandpa!” “Eating crabs!” The list of benefits goes on and on. Over the past several weeks, the third grade students have deepened their knowledge of the ecology of the Chesapeake as well as an understanding of their own responsibility to help ensure the health of our environment.

On Thursday, October 10, the third grade class immersed themselves in their bay ecology studies with a trip to the Annapolis Maritime Museum (AMM). The AMM educates children about the Annapolis area’s rich maritime heritage and the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay through an engaging suite of hands-on programming at their unique location, at the mouth of Back Creek overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The museum’s hope is that these experiences will help establish a foundation for future sustainable environmental decision making in their student participants.

At the AMM, the class participated in a series of engaging hands-on activities. One station took the third graders to the banks of Back Creek, where the students donned their hip waders and tried their hands at seining, or dragging the creekbed to examine what organisms exist just off-shore. Here the students learned about bio-diversity, and discovered that the more diverse the plant and animal life is in an area, the healthier it is. The students took turns pulling in the nets, and the groups collected, examined, and identified the different types of creatures found, including sea jellies, minnows, and other small fish. At this station, the class determined that this area of Back Creek is moderately healthy because they found many creatures, but that it could be improved so that a more diverse selection of species can thrive there.

The oyster farmer station saw the students learn about the life of the watermen, as they tried on traditional watermen work clothing including hip boots, water jackets, gloves, and also the famous waterman beard. The students stood on a platform and used oyster rakes to try to harvest from an oyster bed. This experience showed them how difficult this work is, and also taught them about how oysters grow and what people can do to help facilitate healthy oyster beds.

Next, students moved to the classroom, where they examined small habitats up close. Students used cups and magnifying glasses to separate typical sea creatures from small tabletop aquariums. They collaborated using photographs and charts to correctly identify each species.

Finally, the class experimented with the physics of buoyancy to complete a boat-building challenge. Teams of third grade students used duct tape, foil, and sticks, in a quest to build a boat that would hold a large quantity of golf balls. After an intense building period, the groups presented their boats, and counted as the museum instructors tested each boat to see how many golf balls they could hold. Hopefully, the class will carry some of the lessons learned in this activity over into their eighth grade cardboard boat races in five years!

Thank you to the Annapolis Maritime Museum for a wonderful, engaging day of bay studies!
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