Science came alive once again at the Lloyd Center this summer. Students from 5 years old through 8th grade participated in interactive and engaging activities as they learned about local habitats, wildlife, and weather during our Summer Programs. The various programs helped to foster students’ sense of wonder and instill understanding and appreciation of our coastal and watershed environments.
The Young Naturalist Program, a community favorite, ran on Mondays – Thursdays from July 3rd – August 17th. Staff, in total, logged over 900 contact hours with the younger students. Some tiny explorers attended one day of the week while others participated for the entirety of a week (or more!). Our younger students learned about the sea, the sky, forests and ponds throughout the summer in a variety of ways: they interacted with wildlife, hiked, dip-netted for estuary organisms, searched for insects, explored habitats like salt marshes, kettle ponds and streams, created crafts, played games and more!
A few favorite moments from this summer’s Young Naturalist Program include the catch and release of live Monarch butterflies, raptor presentations with our hawk and owl, turning the classroom into a colorful coral reef, and—particularly enjoyed by this season’s participants—finding pickerel frogs and American toads in the forest. One could say it was a “ribbiting” summer for Young Naturalists at the Lloyd Center!
Our week-long Coastal Studies Programs, for students in 2nd – 8th grade, ran from June 29th to August 18th.
The first program of the summer was a new one, Forests and Wetlands. Students explored maritime forests, caught organisms in vernal pools, and met two live, large snakes during a presentation. They were also able to attend a Native American Ceremonies Day, hosted by local New Bedford Rod and Gun Club members with Native ancestry. Students and staff alike enjoyed this pilot program!
Our second program of the season was Tidal Surge: The Ocean and Climate Change; wherein passionate young marine biologists learned about the relationship between climate change and our seas. Tidal Surge students engaged issues like the greenhouse effect, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and plastic in the ocean in an interactive, solutions-based manner. The week included field trips to the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier and a special tour of UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology. At Demarest Lloyd State Park our students participated in a beach cleanup and removed two full bags of trash from our coast!
The third program of the summer offered to older students was Freshwater Wetlands. Over the course of this program, students got their feet wet—and muddy—while venturing through local marshes and wetlands and collecting wetland organisms. Field trips included a visit to historic Gray’s Grist Mill and fishing at Simmons Pond in Little Compton, RI.
During our fourth program, Wild World of Weather, junior meteorologists participated in experiments and created models while learning about weather on our planet. Students modeled the water cycle in plastic bags, created “hurricanes in a jar”, and learned about climate and glaciers using marshmallows!
During the fifth and final Coastal Studies program, Marine Biology, students explored a barrier beach ecosystem, eel grass beds, and other habitats. They engaged in inquiry-based activities, collected animals like pufferfish and learned about organism relationships during fun games like food web jenga! At the conclusion of all five Coastal Studies programs, students presented the information they’d learned during the week to family and friends.
Lloyd Center Summer Education Programs have been offered to the community for over 30 years and thousands of local children have participated in these programs. Each year, nearly half of our Summer Program students attend on scholarship. The programs help maintain students’ enthusiasm for learning during the summer, engage students with hands-on, interactive science activities, and allow students the chance to interact meaningfully with the natural world around them.