Environmental Education Field Trip Program

Each year, The Wetlands Institute hosts more than 6,000 students for hands-on, feet-wet environmental education field trips!  All of our field trips emphasize hands-on learning and the scientific method.  We offer a broad range of programs including:  Marsh Critter Discovery Walk, Cycles of Life, Beach Exploration, Turtle Talk, Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds, Wetlands Ecology, Barrier Beach Ecology, and special Seasonal Programs.  All environmental education field trip programs are aligned to New Jersey Academic Standards and the North American Association for Environmental Education K-12 Guidelines for Learning, and are tailored to the needs of our visiting teachers and schools.


Spring 2014 Only!
Featured Environmental Education Field Trip Program (Grades K-12)
Theme:  Horseshoe Crabs!

On-site Investigation: Horseshoe Crab Interview (PreK – K)
60 minutes
$7.50/student
Where do they live? What do they eat? How do they grow? When…? Why…? Who…? Questions are the very beginning of science exploration. This interactive inquiry program uses artifacts and live animals to prompt students’ questions as they “interview” a horseshoe crab. Then we’ll take a walk on the Salt Marsh Trail to ask more questions about a horseshoe crab’s connection to this habitat and its inhabitants.

On-site Investigation: Horseshoe Crab Metaphors (1st – 4th grade)
90 minutes
$8.50/student
What has “pennies” in its veins, sees with “solar cells”, and breathes with a “book”?? A horseshoe crab, of course! After hands-on encounter with live horseshoe crabs, students will build a “horseshoe crab” using common objects as metaphors for the animal’s anatomy, life cycle, and ecology.

On-site Investigation: Horseshoe Crab Clinic (5th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/ student
(combine with a Delaware Bay Field Studies program and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
As horseshoe crabs grow they must shed their exoskeletons. The molts they leave behind have a lot to tell about the animal’s body parts and function. Through this hands-on interactive program students will examine horseshoe crab molts learning about their biology, ecology, and integral connection to …us!

On-site Investigation: Let’s Count the Crabs (5th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/ student
(combine with a Delaware Bay Field Studies program and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
This activity is designed to help students understand how the relative abundances of spawning horseshoe crabs are currently being surveyed on Delaware Bay beaches. Students divide into teams to carry out a simulated census, using horseshoe crab models. They then use the information gathered in the survey to calculate the total number of crabs on the “beach”. A perfect introduction to “Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Census” Field Studies program.

Delaware Bay Field Study: The Crabs and the Birds at the Bay: A Local-to-Global Connection (4th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/ student
(combine with an On-site Investigation program and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
A visit to the Delaware Bayshore to view the migrating shorebirds refueling on horseshoe crab eggs offers a deeper opportunity to understand this pole-to-pole phenomenon first-hand.  Students will engage in a variety of activities and have a chance to observe shorebird banding demonstration (upon availability). (specifically timed in the morning)

Delaware Bay Field Study: Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Census (5th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/ student
(combine with an On-site Investigation program and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
Annual Horseshoe Crab Census – Citizen-Scientist Opportunity
Since 1991, the Wetlands Institute has brought scientists and volunteer citizens together to conduct censuses of the ecologically vital horseshoe crab population on the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay. These censuses take place during May and June and are central to our understanding and responsible management of this ancient marine creature. (specifically timed at night)

Delaware Bay Field Study: Horseshoe Crab Cooperative Tagging Program (5th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/ student
(combine with an On-site Investigation program and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
Several times throughout the horseshoe crab spawning season local state and federal researchers coordinate volunteers and students in this tagging program. Through this on-going study scientists are able to increase their understanding of horseshoe crab migration patterns, distribution, abundance, and mortality. Students will participate by recording data, assisting the taggers, and catching, gender typing and releasing the horseshoe crabs. (specifically timed at night)


Year-Round Environmental Education Field Trip Program Opportunities

Marsh Critter Discovery Walk (PreK – 2nd grade)
60 minutes
$7.50/student
Introduce your students to nature and show them that there’s more out there than sharks and poison ivy. Start with a walk down our Salt Marsh Trail, surrounded by waving grasses and shallow water. Be on the lookout for tall egrets, ferocious ospreys, migrating geese, and noisy gulls as we head out onto the boardwalk over the marsh. There might even be baby turtles hatching! Then we’ll head into the aquarium to meet many of the local animals: fish, sea stars, urchins, crabs, horseshoe crabs, diamondback terrapins, and an octopus. The teaching tank will be open, and kids will be able to touch many of the animals.

Cycles of Life (3rd – 4th grade)
90 minutes
$8.50/ student
(combine with any other 90 minute program and a lunch break: 4 hours, $15/student)
Nature’s repetition is all around us. Take a walk down the Salt Marsh Trail to look at the tides, life cycles of turtles and birds, and signs of the seasons. Students become drops of water as they play the water cycle game, using precipitation and evaporation to move from ocean to clouds. Finally, they’ll take on the roles of marsh flora and fauna to build food webs, and learn how pollution moves through food chains.

Beach Exploration (3rd – 4th grade)
90 minutes
$8.50/ student
(combine with any other 90 minute program and a lunch break: 4 hours, $15/student)
Too many kids think the New Jersey Shore is just like they see on “Jersey Shore.” Walk behind the dunes at Stone Harbor Point to see how plants and animals survive this harsh environment. Then climb to the top of the observation platform with binoculars for a look at everything from ships at sea to migrating birds to Wildwood’s rollercoasters. Finally, pick up a pail for some beachcombing. We’ll show your students all of a beach’s P.A.R.T.S. (Plants Animals Rocks Trash Shells) as we learn what belongs on a beach and what doesn’t.

Turtle Talk (3rd – 4th grade)
90 minutes
$8.50/ student
(combine with any other 90 minute program and a lunch break: 4 hours, $15/student)
In all of New Jersey’s salt marshes, from Cape May to Sandy Hook, there’s only one reptile: the northern diamondback terrapin. Meet some terrapins (as well as several other species of turtles) up close, and find out how cars and crab traps endanger them.

Horseshoe Crabs & Shorebirds (4th – 12th grade)
90 minutes
$8.50/ student
(combine with any other 90 minute program and a lunch break: 4 hours, $15/student)
An animal that’s been around for 450 million years is the basis for a $32 million ecotourism business in South Jersey.  Students learn about the interconnectedness of life forms in the Delaware Bay area with emphasis on the relationship between horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds. Then meet live horseshoe crabs, and maybe even give one a kiss for good luck. Finally, play “Reach the Beach” to see the hurdles a horseshoe crab has to overcome before it can lay its eggs.

Wetlands Ecology (5th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/ student
(combine with Barrier Beach Ecology and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
Two full hours of hands-on, feet-wet activities! Students will test water quality from our dock to understand how environmental factors impact wildlife. Then they’ll take soil samples from the marsh and test them to demonstrate the marsh’s flood-preventing powers. Next, look at plants that can grow in the salty environment – including one that everyone gets to taste! – and chase after a few fiddler crabs. Finally, it’s into the creek with seine nets in search of minnows, shrimp, and crabs.

Barrier Beach Ecology (5th – 12th grade)
120 minutes
$9.50/student
(combine with Wetlands Ecology and a lunch break: 5 hours, $17/student)
Two full hours of hands-on, feet-wet activities! Start with a walk through the maritime forest at 48th street in Avalon, one of the last left in America. Students will test water quality on the beach to understand how environmental factors impact wildlife. Next, they’ll venture knee-deep into the ocean to catch a few of the animals that live just below the surface of the sand. Finally, everyone does a little beachcombing, while learning how to classify everything scientifically using simple taxonomy.


Registration Procedure:  Reservations are made by email (preferred) or phone on a first come first served basis.  Please email bknapick@wetlandsinstitute.org to book a program.

 

Do you teach in the northern New Jersey/ New York area? Exploring our coastal environments first hand is a wonderful and thrilling experience for students, but doing so at the Wetlands Institute may be too far for your school to travel. If so, a great alternative is the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium located on Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The NJSGC is a Wetlands Institute environmental education partner and offers hands on field trips that explore the beautiful coastal environment and surrounding wetlands.
Click here for more information on their website.


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