Estuary Lesson Plans and Summer Workshops for Teachers

Estuary Lesson Plans and Summer Workshops for Teachers

SCDNR scientist Katie Luciano (right) demonstrates how to measure marsh erosion or accretion to workshop participants, who then learn how to teach this in the classroom. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

SCDNR scientist Katie Luciano (right) demonstrates how to measure marsh erosion or accretion to workshop participants, who then learn how to teach this in the classroom. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

South Carolina is home to not one but two coastal sites dedicated to the study and protection of estuaries, the fascinating and vibrant ecosystems where rivers meet the sea. These two sites – one in the ACE Basin and one in the North Inlet-Winyah Bay area – are part of a national network of 29 federally funded National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs).

Every summer, the ACE Basin and North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERRs offer activities and resources for K-12 teachers. Deadlines for two upcoming summer workshops for teachers are fast approaching.

A three-day workshop at the ACE Basin NERR (June 20-22, 2017) will offer educators a chance to explore coastal habitats, interact with local scientists, and leave with standards-based curriculum and tools for their classroom.

“In addition to providing teachers with experiences and tools for teaching science, we’ll work with them to plan stewardship projects with their students to protect our local estuaries,” said SCDNR’s Julie Binz, education coordinator for the ACE Basin NERR.

Teachers participating in this workshop will visit salt marshes, maritime forests, and beaches in the ACE Basin. They’ll conduct field investigations along with Reserve researchers to discover how these habitats and wildlife are responding to changing climate conditions, and how scientists study these changes. Participants will learn about standards-based curriculum and mapping tools for teachers to explore the effects of sea level rise and coastal storms in their classroom. Using these strategies, teachers will be able to create a scientifically literate society that is geared towards solutions.

Applications for the ACE Basin Teachers on the Estuary Workshop are due on May 3, 2017. Learn more about the workshop and how to apply here.

ACE Basin NERR education coordinator Julie Binz discusses a workshop activity with participating teachers. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

ACE Basin NERR education coordinator Julie Binz discusses a workshop activity with participating teachers. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

Another summer opportunity is the Salt Marsh STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Teacher Workshop happening over five days at North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERR (July 24-28, 2017). This workshop provides an in-depth investigation into the complex relationships within the estuarine ecosystem and provides techniques and lesson plans to communicate this science through language and visual arts. These activities align with new South Carolina Academic Standards and Performance Indicators for Science, with an emphasis on science practices.

“Expressing science concepts through art allows for differentiated instruction to reach multiple types of learners, connecting more students to science,” Binz said. Teachers in this workshop will learn how to use technology to showcase their students' writing and artwork and then create lessons to use in their classroom that incorporate these science concepts and art techniques.

One past workshop participant used photographs from the week to create an eBook story about a periwinkle snail and a blue crab, which he planned to use as his introduction to the estuary unit. After their estuary field trip, his students would then create their own stories using the same techniques. Another teacher’s workshop experience developed into a mural of estuary plants and animals sketched and described by her students and displayed in the school.

Applications for the Salt Marsh STEAM Teacher Workshop are due on May 3, 2017. Learn more about the workshop and how to apply here.

South Carolina teachers aren’t restricted to South Carolina NERR workshops -- other “Teachers on the Estuary” workshops are offered at NERRs across the country, all of which are no cost or low cost.

(Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

(Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

More Curricular Resources

For those that can’t make a summer workshop, the NERRs still offer a multitude of resources for incorporating coastal science into the classroom. Teachers can download dozens of free lessons that feature hands-on learning and experiments and cover topics ranging from sharks to extreme weather to oil spills in estuaries. The curricula are adaptable for any grade level and come with everything needed for classroom implementation.

Check out the catalogue of estuary curricula here!

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