Summer on the Bay

CBNERR wants to help you explore and learn about the Chesapeake Bay this summer, all while keeping everyone safe. Join us each week from June 15-August 31 to learn about something new! We will cover themes such as estuaries, macroinvertebrates, dissection, and more, and we'll do that by posting a video for each topic plus other resources like craft projects, online simulations, and experiments you can do at home. We also hope to take you on some virtual field trips throughout the summer.  

Check back each week for the newest activities! Materials will be mostly appropriate for elementary and middle school students, but can be adapted for high school students.

Week 12 - Beachcombing and Marine Debris

This week we will be learning about marine debris and beachcombing! NOAA defines marine debris as "any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes.” Beachcombing is an activity that involves searching or “combing” a beach looking for things of interest. Beachcombing can also be an activity used to help clean our beaches by “combing” the sand for any marine debris! 

Check out some of the common shells you may find while beachcoming!
{{youtube:small|ne7C9phmpCY, This video introduces beachcoming.}} 

Enjoy a sea shell coloring page!

To learn more about Marine Debris, look at “iSPY” activity using sculpture created by Washed Ashore using trash found in the Pacific Ocean. 

Take the “Talking Trash Quiz” to see how much you know about marine debris and plastic pollution. 

Test your knowledge on invertebrates with our “Invertebrate or Not” Quiz!

For more information on plastic pollution and marine debris around the world:
The Ocean Conservancy: 

Clean swell app:

The next International Coastal Clean-up is in September 2020! 

Week 11 - Macroinvertebrates

Aquatic macroinvertebrates (animals that are large enough to see with your eyes but lack a backbone/spine) are found in freshwater environments like rivers and lakes. They consume plant material as it breaks down. Different types of macroinvertebrates tolerate different water quality parameters and levels of pollution. The presence or absence of these macroinvertebrates are used to indicate overall aquatic health. 

Check out how to make your own leaf pack to study aquatic macroinvertebrates:{{youtube:small|zyF9X2eoB88, This video introduces leaf packs.}} 

Play “Macroinvertebrate Match”.

Test your knowledge with this online quiz: 

You can purchase your own BugKit from:   

Week 10 - Human Impacts

Humans affect the Chesapeake Bay in a number of ways. Our day-to-day activities can lead to air and water pollution, eutrophication (excess nutrients), and sedimentation. Humans have also overfished some Bay species and introduced invasive species that cause harm to native plants and animals. Another human-induced threat with many impacts on the Chesapeake Bay is climate change. This week, you can learn more about these threats and what you can do to help!

Start with this video! {{youtube:small|GBxCpaFSeoM, This video introduces human impacts on the Bay.}} 

Then, try the associated activity to learn more about watersheds and how everything we do within the Chesapeake Bay watershed has an impact: 

Check out this video, featuring an enviroscape, to learn even more about how our activities affect the Bay.{{youtube:small|cG5cfErndU4, This video introduces the enviroscape.}}
Carbon dioxide emissions from activities we do each day like heating and cooling our houses, driving, and running appliances contribute to climate change. Use this wheel card activity to learn about simple changes you can make in your home to reduce your carbon footprint: 

You can help save the Bay at home! Use this activity from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to learn more about how your home impacts water quality and how to reduce negative impacts: 

For older kids, check out this activity book from NOAA to learn more about climate change and how humans contribute to it: 

Week 9 - Fish of the Chesapeake Bay

There are around 350 different species of fish that live in the Chesapeake Bay. They do not all stay in the Bay year around, some leave and go to the ocean to migrate away for either summer or winter. A few fish, such as northern puffers, flounder, and striped bass are important for commercial fishermen that catch and sell those fish for a living.

Check out this video of a local waterman going to check his fish pots.
 {{youtube:small|y0SOGM6qh8U, This video introduces fish in the Chesapeake Bay.}} 

Check out this activity for all ages about different fish and their adaptations.
{{youtube:small|-B6WoQGWRdU, This video introduces fish adaptations.}}

Check out the vims fish collection! 

Check out all of the different types of fish that live in the Chesapeake Bay! 

Here is a link to an awesome video on electroshocking fish!  

For our younger audience, check out this fish building activity! 

Week 8 - Water Quality

CBNERR-VA focuses on water quality since water quality parameters are great indicators of overall ecosystem health. Many water quality parameters such as salinity, pH, turbidity, and temperature undergo seasonal changes, so the monitoring of these parameters is important. In the classroom, there are several types of kits that can be used to test water quality. Our field technicians use YSI sondes to monitor water quality in the field. 

Check out how our education team monitors quality with our students:  {{youtube:small|1Q_hiFgPrEs, This video introduces water quality.}} 

Take a behind the scenes glance at how the water quality lab uses YSI sondes to analyze water quality data from the field:

{{youtube:small|5Hcagt7CngA, This video introduces the YSI.}}

Learn more about water quality parameters with this infographic.

See if you can guess where each of these common household items belong on the pH scale!

Get Down with Data with this interactive scavenger hunt online!

Check out The Virginia Estuarine and Coastal Observing System (VECOS), which is the hub for water quality monitoring in the Chesapeake Bay and associated tributaries within Virginia!

Week 7 - Oysters

The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most iconic species. Oyster reefs provide habitat for many other species in the Bay. Oysters are also filter feeders, which means they pump water through their bodies, eating the tiny plankton and algae in the water, and packaging the other particles in the water so that they settle to the bottom. In this way, oysters help purify the water. Long ago, oysters were plentiful in the Bay, but their population has been devastated by overharvesting and disease. Now people all across the Chesapeake Bay watershed are working hard to restore the native oyster.

CBNERRVA places oyster habitat cages in the York River to replicate the habitat of an oyster reef. Shells are added into a wire mesh cube, which is then placed on the bottom of a shallow estuary. In this video, we pull up the habitat cages and take a look at all the creatures growing there: {{youtube:medium|XP2w9SQ7Y70, This video introduces our habitat cages.}}

CBNERRVA is also helping to build an oyster reef in our teaching marsh! Check it out in this video:{{youtube:small|PFlElRq0590, This video shows the oyster reef in the marsh.}}

Next, check-out the amazing filtration power of oysters:

Oyster reefs are an important habitat for lots of other species in the Bay. Build your own oyster reef with this printable craft or try these coloring pages

Learn even more about what creatures you might find on an oyster reef or identify creatures you might have found already with the mini field guide (Field Guide PDF).

Oysters improve the water quality of the Bay with their amazing filtration abilities. Learn more about water filtration with this hands-on activity building your own filter

Check out the progress made in oyster restoration all across the Bay using this resource, which includes interactive charts and maps. 

For more information on oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, browse some of the many resources provided in this lesson plan from NOAA.

Week 6 - The Teaching Marsh

The Teaching Marsh is located on the VIMS campus and is a site used to teach the public about the importance of marshes and explore wildlife. Our research and stewardship teams spend much of their time at our 4 NERR sites protecting, conserving, and collecting data in marshes. Marshes have many functions from buffering the mainland from storm surge, filtering nutrients, to acting as nursery for thousands of local species. We hope you get a chance to explore the beauty of marshes and appreciate the importance they hold.

Learn about some of the local flora and fauna found in marshes!
{{youtube:small|ETdbs4l9npE, This video introduces marshes.}}

Join us for a demonstration on the functions of wetlands!
{{youtube:small|Shoof_1Tk2c, This video introduces the functions of wetlands.}}

Test your marsh knowledge with this quiz!

Thanks to our friends at South Carolina Sea Grant, explore the pages of an activity book filled
with information, games, and coloring pages! 

Test your knowledge of marsh functions with Marsh Match!

Week 5 - Anatomy and Dissections

Observing the exterior and interior structure of animals can offer information about their habitat, diet, and overall behavior. Dissections are conducted by scientists to learn the cause of death of animals and to gather knowledge to teach students and the public about basic animal anatomy. Dissections are also conducted with supervision, but you can learn all about anatomy and dissections from home!

Check out an introductory video on common dissections done at CBNERR:

{{youtube:small|yTatyhso8nk, This video introduces dissections.}}

Fill in the blanks on squid anatomy!

Enjoy this clam anatomy coloring page:

Check out the dissection of a Dogfish shark:

{{youtube:small|ojzABFwRRZs, This video shows a shark dissection.}}

Explore how sea stars and urchins move!

{{youtube:small|fbQRNjAG2gM, This video introduces some anatomy of echinoderms.}}

Blue crabs are a common species of the Bay. See what’s under that shell: 

You can order owl pellets online and conduct your own dissection at home! 

Week 4 - Science Literacy 

Literacy is an important concept for all subjects, but also for science because it allows us to discuss societal and environmental issues, but also helps build a citizenry that is science-literate and can cope with these issues, and develop solutions to help us deal with them in the future. Literacy in the science classroom may look like asking students to think critically while reading scientific news or graphs, analyzing media for potential bias, or asking students to write about the results from their own investigations.

First, watch this video about how we incorporate literacy into our work at CBNERR.

{{youtube:small|C8nZ9TxCR_I, This video introduces the topic of science and literacy.}}

We hope you all are reading this summer, and hopefully some of your books are related to science and the ocean. Here’s a fun BINGO game to broaden the types of books you are reading!

One of our CBNERR interns created a storytime for you to share with your kids!

{{youtube:small|p0n3ysr_ADM, Stories are a great way to incorporate literacy into science.}}

Creating a nature journal is another way to support literacy with your child.  Sign up here to receive a nature journal packet filled with goodies to get you started! (Limited Quantities) - 

If you’re looking for some suggestions for books to read this summer about the Chesapeake Bay and the ocean, check out our recommendations below!

Adult Reading List

Kids’ Book Suggestions

CBNERR Recommended Field Guides

Additional science and literacy resources - 

Week 3 - Red, White, and Blue Crabs

Blue crabs are one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most well-known animals. They are invertebrates, meaning that they have no backbone. Blue crabs are also able to swim with their two back flippers, which allows them to get around easily and quickly. Blue crabs are a big source of income for the local waterman because of the local seafood industry.  

{{youtube:small|5VIeof3j2RQ, This video introduces the topic of blue crabs.}}

Want to learn how to determine the gender of a blue crab and how to identify types of blue crabs. Watch below!

{{youtube:small|JkkLkicCKdA, This video describes how to identify the gender of a blue crab.}}

Blue crabs have to molt in order to grow. Watch this time lapse of this blue crab shedding!

{{youtube:small|R4Yc-pEB0dU, This video shows a blue crab molting.}}

Check out this blue crab anatomy activity to see if you can label the parts of a blue crab!

For the younger audience members, learn how to draw a blue crab!

{{youtube:small|WV67sNmvPBs, This video shows how to draw a blue crab.}}

Here are a few additional resources to read up on about blue crabs, and

Week 2 - Scientific Investigations

This week’s subject is scientific investigations. Scientific investigations are how scientists do research. Start with the video below for an introduction to scientific investigations.

{{youtube:small|7Vfo0tsPYKI, This video introduces the topic of scientific investigations.}}

All scientists record their investigations in a scientific journal. To learn how to keep a scientific journal, start with the “Scientific Journal” infographic. Scientists can investigate in many different ways to help answer questions or solve problems. Two examples of scientific investigations are experimental investigations and observational investigations. Experimental investigations involve using the scientific method to test a hypothesis. If you would like to learn more about experimental investigations and conduct one on your own, start with the “Scientific Method” infographic and the “Floating Egg Experiment”. Observational investigations require recording detailed observations of the environment you are studying. If you would like to participate in an observational investigation, start with “Animal Observations using an Ethogram”.
For more information on experimental investigations check out these other at-home science experiments:

For more information on observational investigations check out these other online resources:

Week 1 - Estuaries 

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the country. Half the water in the Bay comes from the Atlantic Ocean while the other half comes from rivers and tributaries further inland. The mix of fresh and salt water creates a brackish environment and is what makes the Chesapeake Bay an estuary. Thousands of species call estuaries home and this biodiversity is why these areas need protection. The Chesapeake National Estuarine Research Reserve-VA’s mission is to protect and study estuarine environments through research, stewardship, and education! Take a look at how beautiful these areas are!

Watch first - introduction to estuaries video!

{{youtube:small|wliTho5_sT4, This video introduces the topic of estuaries.}}

Test your knowledge on estuaries with our NOAA quiz! (Credit: NOAA) 

For our younger audience members, enjoy games and coloring pages of some estuarine critters! (Credit: NC NERR) 

Estuaries in North Carolina are similar to those found in Virginia. Scroll down to page 6 to start
exploring the various habitats within an estuary! (Credit: NC NERR) 

Check out a reserve near you! 

See what happens when salt and fresh water meet, and an experiment you can do at home! 

{{youtube:small|A5ub80PCvtk, This video demonstrates the formation of the saltwater wedge.}}