This fall saw 260 enthusiastic students disembarking from school buses and stepping onto the shores of Buzzards Bay, ready for a full day of immersive outdoor learning at the Onset Bay Center.
These students embarked on an exciting journey of exploration, delving into their natural surroundings through a myriad of engaging activities. Teams of students ascended the sandy slopes of Onset Beach, not for a day of leisure, but to study shellfish and calculate the remarkable volume of water these bivalves help filter. On the boardwalk, they carefully examined water samples freshly drawn from the heart of the Bay, meticulously recording data on temperature, salinity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen levels to assess the overall water quality. Meanwhile, up on the upper plaza, students huddled around a captivating scale model of the Buzzards Bay watershed, where they witnessed, in real-time, the impacts of nitrogen pollution and stormwater runoff on the environment.
This extraordinary experience is part of a 2-year project generously funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay and Watershed Educational Experience (B-WET) grant. The project, which kicked off this fall at the Onset Bay Center, spans the entire Wareham Public School district, targeting 6th and 7th-grade students. The overarching goal is to provide these students with a hands-on opportunity to connect with their local watershed and actively contribute to its betterment. An impressive 620 students are slated to benefit from these enriching field trips.
Colette Tweeddale, the Outdoor Learning Manager at the Buzzards Bay Coalition, couldn’t contain her excitement. “We are extremely thrilled to engage Wareham Middle School students at the Onset Bay Center. These Outdoor Learning Programs will help to rekindle the connection local youth have with their beloved Bay, all through enjoyable and captivating activities.”
It wasn’t just the students who were present; high-ranking officials also graced the occasion. NOAA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, Benjamin Friedman, and Wareham Public Schools Assistant Superintendent, Andrea Schwamb, made a special visit to witness this outdoor learning extravaganza.
Andrea Schwamb shared her thoughts: “The Wareham Middle School’s trip to the Buzzards Bay Coalition was an exciting opportunity for students and teachers to learn about the water and the marine life in their backyard. Students explored the beach and worked hands-on to learn about shellfish and water testing. One of the groups was delighted to see an ocean sunfish playing in the waters off the beach.”
These engaging field trips, as well as all the other outdoor learning programs orchestrated by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, have a profound purpose. They aim to nurture the environmental leaders of tomorrow, empowering young minds to be the harbingers of positive change for Buzzards Bay and beyond. In essence, these programs are sowing the seeds of ecological stewardship and ensuring that the love for the Bay endures for generations to come.