In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Aquatic Resources Education Center now offers a virtual version of the Eco-Explorers field trip program that school groups can use until it becomes possible to resume traditional, in-person field trips.
The program is designed to bring the wonders of the tidal salt marsh to students in any learning setting.
The virtual Eco-Explorers field trip combines short video segments with worksheets, activities and other resources focused on food webs and energy flow, plant and animal adaptations and water chemistry in a tidal saltmarsh ecosystem.
Participation in the virtual Eco-Explorers field trip program is free, but we do ask that you register your class. This will help us evaluate how successfully we are meeting the needs of the schools we serve. And it will help us provide additional programs in the future.
Each learning unit is available as a ZIPPED collection of files that teachers may download and share with students on the learning platform of their choice. Please save the ZIP file for each unit to your computer.
Each unit follows a standard format:
The Getting Started on your Virtual Eco-Explorers Field Trip package includes introductory information for teachers and students.
Welcome to the Tidal Salt Marsh gives an overview of the workings of a tidal salt marsh ecosystem and includes activities exploring energy flow through food webs, the role played by detritus and the effect of tides. The “Welcome to the Tidal Salt Marsh” video is also available in Spanish (Bienvenido a Tidal Salt Marsh).
The Fish Identification activities allow students to identify fish with a dichotomous key and explore fish adaptations.
The Macroinvertebrates unit includes a macroinvertebrate identification activity and other activities exploring adaptations found in aquatic macroinvertebrates.
The Water Quality unit explains some common water quality tests and how to make and use homemade versions of water testing instruments.
The unit includes activities to help students learn about plant adaptations in the tidal salt marsh.
The Wildlife Clues unit includes an activity to help students learn to identify wildlife signs such as tracks and scat.
A Wrap-up and Evaluation package includes a field trip report, evaluation form, and links to additional resources.