Exploring Local Biodiversity Wrap Up

The past two weeks have been very busy on our education dock! Thursday, March 29 concluded a group of schools visiting SERC as part of an exciting collaborative education initiative between SERC, the National Zoological Park, Friends of the National Zoo, and DC teachers. Exploring Local Biodiversity aimed to train teachers from DC to develop inquiry-based science lessons focused on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems around the Chesapeake Bay and the importance of biodiversity in a changing world.

This program built an important link between science education providers (SERC and the National Zoo) and local science teachers. The goal was to empower these teachers in providing Smithsonian resources to fill the gap between their existing science education framework and the expectations of new science standardized testing requirements.

At the crux of the program was a combination of teacher training sessions and student field trips at both the National Zoo and SERC. Applying techniques acquired in training sessions, teachers in the program developed classroom lessons that were supplemented by a field trip to the National Zoo’s Invertebrate exhibit and SERC’s Estuary Chesapeake program. These hands-on experiences connected the dots for students by putting scientific method-based learning into practice while exposing them first-hand to the broader concepts and issues of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

In the span of just two weeks, over 450 students visited SERC as part of the Exploring Local Biodiversity program. We had a great time exploring new techniques and lessons. Hardy Middle School crossed into new territory by empowering eighth grade student leaders from their NEMO program to lead the stations. The DC Bilingual Public Charter School bumped up their lessons by spending half the day investigating earthworms, a topic they had been learning about in the classroom prior to their visit. Using a mustard water solution, students extracted, counted, and observed over 350 earthworms! Collectively, all students recorded data on the biodiversity in the Rhode River by investigating benthic oyster bar communities and seining (fishing with a seine net) in near-shore aquatic habitats. Their data can be found here.

Thanks to Alan Peters of the National Zoological Park, we have a photo slideshow that narrates DC Bilingual’s trip to SERC. Click on the first image (the bus) to see a larger version of the slideshow. Once in slideshow mode, click right to see more.

To see more photos from last week, check out our post about the first day of spring trips, or our photo gallery (a collection of all of our Estuary Chesapeake photos).

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