Virginia Coastal Ecosystems Field Course
8 July-12 July, 2012
VIMS Eastern Shore Lab
Since 2001, educators from the VIMS/Virginia Sea Grant Extension Program educators have led classroom science teachers in explorations of the diverse habitats of Virginia's Eastern Shore and its barrier islands. The home base for these learning adventures is an active coastal research facility, the VIMS Eastern Shore Lab in Wachapreague, VA. This year, we are again offering science teachers this field-intensive survey of the coastal ecosystems characteristic of the Mid-Atlantic region.
The focus of the 2012 VIMS Chesapeake Bay Academy: Virginia Coastal Ecosystems Field Course is to prepare teachers to successfully integrate coastal and ocean content into their existing curricula, while buiding confidence and skills in conducting Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with their students. Participants experience diverse coastal habitats representative of Virginia's Eastern Shore, comparing and contrasting environments on the Chesapeake Bay and within an Atlantic coast barrier island complex. Using coastal oceanographic methods, teachers practice scientific monitoring skills and use the Eastern Shore as a case study for investigating the diversity of coastal environments and organisms. The parameters and habitats sampled illustrate MWEE field science activities that can be replicated with students in many parts of the state.
Learning from scientists, Virginia Sea Grant educators, and fellow teachers, participants receive: Virginia SOL-relevant content in marine biology, chemistry, physics, earth and ocean sciences, and technology; teaching resources for the classroom and field; and a meaningful outdoor educational experience that both models a MWEE and generates data they will be able to use in the classroom. Using high-tech and low-tech methods, teachers will sample the ecosystems with various types of oceanographic equipment, including:
- Otter trawl
- Oyster dredge
- Sediment corer
- YSI salinity/DO/temp probe
- Refractometer & hydrometer
- Secchi disk
- GPS receivers
- Benthic grab
- Van Dorn bottle
Participants investigate habitats on both ocean and bay sides of the Eastern Shore, including:
- Salt marsh
- Tidal creek
- Mud flat
- Oyster reef
- Barrier island
- Tidal inlet
- Coastal Atlantic Ocean
- Sea grass bed
- Sand bar
Participants are also able to explore the coastal community of Wachapreague, the Little City by the Sea, which includes a successful working waterfront.
The classroom and lab portions of the VIMS Chesapeake Bay Academy include content supporting Virginia Standards of Learning and integrating existing environmental education curricula and online resources. Participants receive teaching materials, laboratory and field activity outlines transferable to their own students and individual regions of Virginia. Examples of the curricula provided are: Estuaries 101; Project WET; Project Aquatic WILD; Wonders of Wetlands; Healthy Waters/Healthy People. Academy staff also provide guidance and VRUEC resources to build teacher confidence and competence in planning and conducting Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences.
- Teach middle and/or high school science
- Enjoy, or are willing to endure, early mornings and long hours in the field under the typical summer weather and insect conditions of coastal Virginia
- Will maintain communications throughout the school year for the purposes of collegial sharing and course evaluation
- Have a basic understanding of coastal biology and ecology
- Are comfortable using basic computer and Internet-based applications and communications (e.g. Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer/Firefox, email)
- Fully participate in the five day residential program
- With their students in the appropriate classes, conduct and assess two lessons or activities using content and resources from the workshop during the 2012-13 school year
- Complete follow-up questionnaires regarding their implementation of content and activities from the workshop (we anticipate no more than two online surveys during the 2012-13 school year)
- Provide feedback on the implementation of lesson plans
This sample agenda (pdf) is meant to provide a basic outline for the five day course. It is subject to change.
Lodging is included at the Eastern Shore Lab's dormitory. It is a large older house that has been renovated for group living. The second story consists of two large bunkrooms, each with its own bathroom. Additional bunkrooms and bathroom facilities (including handicapped accessible facility) are available on the first floor. The dorm also includes a large kitchen and dining area, small den with satellite tv and a picnic area with gas grills.
Hotel accomodations are also available, at the participant's expense, approximately 20 minutes from the Lab.
There is no cost for this program thanks to support from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Resource Use Education Council (VRUEC), Virginia Sea Grant, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Graduate Credit & Recertification
Graduate credit is available for this course through Virginia Commonwealth University. Cost is $375 (3 credits at $125/credit). Please contact us if interested.
Non-credit seeking participants will earn approximately 32 Professional Development Activity points towards recertification, subject to advanced approval from their school.
2012 VRUEC Chesapeake Bay Academies
Register for any Academy using the link labeled "Click here to register" near the top of the VA Naturally page.
Clark, V., C. Hopper Brill, and C. Petrone. 2008. Two Boats, Three Summers, Five Universities, One Dozen Instructors, and Sixty-Five Teachers: A Collaborative Oceanography Field Program for Earth Science. The Journal Of Mathematics and Science: Collaborative Explorations. Vol 10: 43-53.