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School and Group Programs

Girl holding a crab during a field programEvery year, hundreds of children get up-close and personal with Buzzards Bay through the Coalition’s group programs in the field, at schools, and in our learning centers. Our hands-on programs help students discover and explore the Bay and its watershed.

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Field Programs

Students exploring a marsh during a field programThe extraordinary natural resources of Buzzards Bay and its watershed provide a learning experience unlike any other. Our exciting hands-on field programs connect youth with their Bay and watershed while supporting classroom learning.

We offer field programs in five tracks: Making a Mess in the Marsh, The Forest and the Bay, Beyond the Beach, The Wonder of Wetlands, and Water, Weather and Climate.

Making a Mess in the Marsh

A salt marsh is deceptive in its complexity and only fully appreciated when you get dirty, exploring the abundance of life in one of the planet’s most productive ecosystems. Students will explore the zones of a marsh and develop connections between this habitat and its benefits to the Bay and watershed.

Field programs offered under Making a Mess in the Marsh:

  • Habitat Hunt: Students will participate in a guided scavenger hunt in which they will use their senses to discover the diversity of life in a Buzzards Bay watershed habitat. Grades K-5.
  • Taking Inventory: Students will make detailed observations of the plant life in a habitat and will consider the roles that plants play. Grades 3-8.

The Forest and the Bay

On the surface, the relationship between the forest and the Bay may seem a distant one. But these two habitats are closely connected, and their relationship has a direct impact on the Bay’s health. Through exploration and experimentation, students learn how a forest filters runoff and recharges the groundwater table to benefit Bay water quality.

Field programs offered under The Forest and the Bay:

  • Habitat Hunt: Students will participate in a guided scavenger hunt in which they will use their senses to discover the diversity of life in a Buzzards Bay watershed habitat. Grades K-5.
  • Land Art: Connections to the natural world are made through artistic exploration in this activity that encourages creativity and discovery. Grades 3-8.
  • Taking Inventory: Students will make detailed observations of the plant life in a habitat and will consider the roles that plants play. Grades 3-8.

Beyond the Beach

The beaches of Buzzards Bay are home to plants and animals that are some of the hardiest species in the world. We take a look at the critters that call Buzzards Bay beaches their home and explore what they do to survive wind, waves and aggressive predators.

Field programs offered under Beyond the Beach:

  • Shell Hunt: Beach combing meets careful observation when students scour the intertidal zone for interesting organisms. Grades K-5.
  • Cleanup Count: Students will contribute to the health of the Bay and watershed in this stewardship program while learning about the impact of pollution on the Bay and its inhabitants. Grades 3-8.
  • Land Art: Connections to the natural world are made through artistic exploration in this activity that encourages creativity and discovery. Grades 3-8.
  • Taking Inventory: Students will make detailed observations of the plant life in a habitat and will consider the roles that plants play. Grades 3-8.

The Wonder of Wetlands

Long misunderstood and underappreciated, freshwater wetlands are now recognized for their enormous benefit to wildlife and humans. These incredibly diverse and fascinating habitats are a critical part of the Buzzards Bay watershed. Students will gain the knowledge and confidence to become wetland explorers and protectors.

Field programs offered under The Wonder of Wetlands:

  • Vernal Pools: Students will be introduced to these fragile and temporary habitats that are home to a unique array of life, from frogs to salamanders to aquatic insects. Grades K-8. (Spring only.)

Water, Weather and Climate

Water, weather and climate influence each other while impacting our daily routines and our quality of life. Through interactive programs, students will recognize the relationship between our daily weather, the changing climate and Buzzards Bay’s water quality.

Field programs offered under Water, Weather and Climate:

  • Where’s the Water?: Become “Baywatchers” for a day by learning basic water sampling techniques and considering the movement of water around the planet and in the watershed. Grades 3-8.

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Schoolyard Ecology Programs

Schoolyard habitats provide opportunities for exploration and investigation. We can lead your students in discovering the life that exists just outside your school’s doors.

We offer schoolyard ecology programs in one track: People and the Bay.

People and the Bay

Since the native settlers, people have been drawn to this region because of the bounty of Buzzards Bay and its watershed. At the same time, poorly planned human development has put a tremendous strain on this valuable resource. We will study the interface between the developed and natural environment and how it affects our quality of life.

Schoolyard ecology programs offered under People and the Bay:

  • Schoolyard Search: Students begin viewing the schoolyard as a habitat as they search for a variety of components and then consider how abiotic factors influence survival. Grades K-8.
  • Exploring Watersheds: Building a model of a watershed with simple materials demonstrates how water moves through the landscape. Afterwards, students investigate how and where water travels at the school. Grades 3-8.
  • Plant Assessment: Students make simple maps of the schoolyard and assess the site for plant growth while considering the impacts of environmental factors and human intervention on growth and survival. Grades 6-8.

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Learning Center Programs

Student peering through fish tankDiscovering Buzzards Bay begins at our learning centers in New Bedford and Woods Hole (seasonal), where you can view a 3-D map of the watershed, learn about issues facing the Bay, and participate in hands-on activities designed to teach about natural and man-made habitats around the watershed.

In our learning centers, we offer programs in two tracks: People and the Bay and Estuaries and Oceans.

People and the Bay

Since the native settlers, people have been drawn to this region because of the bounty of Buzzards Bay and its watershed. At the same time, poorly planned human development has put a tremendous strain on this valuable resource. We will study the interface between the developed and natural environment and how it affects our quality of life.

Learning Center programs offered under People and the Bay:

  • Watershed Walk: Follow the path of a raindrop and examine the surfaces, activities and pollutants it might come in contact with on its way to Buzzards Bay. Explore our 3-D watershed map and perform percolation tests outside. Grades K-8.
  • Eelgrass Connections: Learn about the relationship between eelgrass, nitrogen pollution, and Buzzards Bay and get a scallop’s-eye view of eelgrass in our outdoor sculptural meadow. Grades K-8.
  • Boats of the Bay: Explore the ledges and ridges of the Buzzards Bay floor with the use of our 3-D watershed model and understand the difficulties of navigating a boat through Buzzards Bay. Grades 3-8.
  • Green Building, Healthy Bay: Explore the green features of the Buzzards Bay Center that help to conserve energy and resources. Investigate the impact that one building has on the environment and discover how you can make a difference in protecting our Bay. Grades 6-8.

Estuaries and Oceans

An estuary such as Buzzards Bay provides the foundation for most of the ocean’s life, not to mention the food for many of the commercial fisheries we enjoy. We explore the smallest life in the Bay – plankton – and reconstruct the food and energy cycle that we all depend on.

Learning Center programs offered under Estuaries and Oceans:

  • Plankton in my Cup: The secret world of plankton will be revealed as students investigate these vital and often-overlooked organisms that inhabit our Bay. Grades K-8.

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General Information

Grade Levels

We offer a variety of programs for kindergarten through eighth graders. You can choose from the programs listed on the left or contact our staff to customize your learning experience.

High school teachers are encouraged to contact our education department to create a customized program.

Program Length

School and group programs are designed to last one hour, but we can customize or combine programs to meet your needs.

For Learning Center programs, we can work with other local educational institutions in downtown New Bedford to create a full day of learning.

Curriculum Frameworks

All of our group programs are designed to support Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Please contact our education department for specific information and links to state Curriculum Frameworks.

Pricing

Field and Schoolyard Programs

Pricing for field and schoolyard programs is based on group size and program length:

  • 1 hour for up to 30 students: $100
  • Each additional hour or additional group of 30 students on same day: $80

Learning Center Programs

Pricing for Learning Center programs is $4 per student.

Please contact our education department if your group needs financial assistance to participate in a program.

Downloads

Download a printable version of our school and group programs:

Contact

To start planning your program today, contact our education department:

Margo Connolly, Senior Educator
(508) 999-6363 x224