For Parents

Hello Parents! Get ready for some intense dinner table discussions, like how turbidity affects phytoplankton populations near-shore aquatic ecosystems, because your child is about to be part of a watershed investigation. The Estuary Chesapeake program at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center is an all day romp around the Rhode River that gives students a hands-on look into estuarine science.

If you’re here because you want to know what your child will be up to when they visit SERC, take a look around the blog. Explore. Then check out the website if you want more information.

If you’re here because you have volunteered to be a chaperon for the field trip to SERC and…

you have already been trained at SERC or by a teacher, use this page as a home base, but explore the whole blog too. Since you have already been trained, you might want to skip straight to the Station Leader section to see get more familiar with your assigned station. Don’t forget to follow this blog (click the “follow” button on the home page) to get up to date information.

you need to be trained, click here to be redirected to the list of upcoming Parent/Teacher Training Workshops. Contact Wendy Van Norden to sign up for a workshop date.

you cannot attend a training session, the first thing you should do is check out the “Parent/Teacher Training Presentation” powerpoint (you can download it here). There is a special introduction designed for chaperones who don’t have the chance to have an official training.


    • Want to know what to do to prepare for your trip? Look below for what to do before your trip.
    • Want to start your educational exploration to becoming a station leader? Skip down to the Station Leader section to start the schoolin’.
    • Want to cut down on the chaos and know how to start the day right? Skip down to the “what to do when you get to SERC” section.

Thanks for volunteering!


What to do before your trip…..

  • The first and most important thing to do is communicate with the teacher organizing this field trip. They will have details and information specific to your trip.
  • Once you get in touch with them, the first thing to coordinate is a training workshop. This may entail a training session lead by our staff at SERC, or a session lead by your teacher at the school. There are a few options, and your teacher will have talked to SERC staff to choose the best option.
  • In the off-chance you cannot make it to a training at SERC and your teacher is not coordinating one at the school, fret not, for the blog can help. This page, along with the About Estuary Chesapeake and Downloadable Documents pages, and other exciting tools like videos, pictures, and posts, can help you prepare for the field trip. Check out the Station Leader section below to start studying up!
  • Since parents are expected to be an expert at one station, talk to your teacher and use the blog to read up on your assigned station. The best resources for this are the Parent/Teacher Training Presentation and the Estuary Chesapeake Manual.  You will receive one copy of the manual at your training session; however, both the manual and presentation can be downloaded here.
  • Keep in mind that you will probably get wet and/or dirty (so fun, right?!) so dress yourself and your child appropriately.
  • Bring a lunch, as there is nowhere to get food close by once you are here. We do have a beverage vending machine that accepts coins.
  • Here are directions to SERC.

What to do when you get to SERC…..

  • Once you disembark the bus, help the students to drop off their bags and lunches on the big brown tables in Beller Hall when you walk in, and to go straight to the back left  towards the exit sign and bathrooms to head outside to the picnic tables (directions may change in inclement weather).
  • Someone from our staff will be handing out an up to date rotation schedule with switching times. Make sure you get a copy before you head out to your station.
  • We will all meet outside at the picnic tables for an introduction to the day. Use this time to find a SERC staff member or volunteer (usually in a red or SERC shirt) if you have any questions.
  • Wrangle up your assigned group of students (usually numbered) and go to your station.
    • The water testing (1), oyster bar community (2), and crabbing (3) are all located on the floating dock. All students must wear a life jacket on the floating dock, which can be found in the white bin after the gate.
    • Investigating plankton (4) starts on the dock with the plankton tow, and then continues in the classroom for discussion and microscopy.
    • Going fishing/seining (5) is on a beach down the gravel path to the right of the picnic tables.
  • Follow the times on the schedule as closely as you can.  Communicate with other station leaders to make sure everyone is on the same page. Cooperation is key!
  • Our friendly SERC staff and volunteers are available to help with anything you need. One of the awesome benefits of the parents and teachers leading the stations is that we are available to help out and make sure everything runs smoothly.
  • If you are with a large school group and you are leading the same station all day, make sure you get a lunch break during either one of the last rotations of the morning session, or the first rotations of the afternoon session. Our staff will be available to relieve you while you eat.

What to do after your trip…..

  • Give us your feedback! Comment on the blog or send us an email. We encourage and appreciate all feedback so that we can improve for future programs. Thank you for your time!
  • Visit the SERC Education website for more information about Estuary Chesapeake and other SERC programs.

Station Leader Section

  • This Parent/Teacher Training Presentation is the same presentation we show at the training sessions. Going through it helps putting everything into perspective.
  • Everyone should check out the “Exploring the Chesapeake Workbook” for details and to see how topics connect. (You can find it on the Downloadable Documents page.)
  • Since each chaperone should be an expert at one station, check out the information available for each of the stations below.



One thought on “For Parents

  1. Pingback: Ready For Action | Estuary Chesapeake

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