Coastal Exploration Program

click to enlarge

Squelching stinky mud, ocean spray, the sounds of laughter carrying on the wind… nothing is as great as getting to spend a school day on the beach under the warm sun!

The Lloyd Center’s Coastal Exploration Program, or CEP, consists of three parts: two-in class lessons and a field trip to a local barrier beach ecosystem. The first in-class lesson educates 5th graders about food chains, food webs and the organisms which depend upon them. This lesson also examines the effects climate change has on various food webs. The excitement and engagement continue in the second in-class lesson of CEP. When Lloyd Center educators visit participating 5th grade classrooms for the second time, we bring live animals from our touch tank! Structures, or the physical parts on an organism’s body which help it survive, are examined. Students play a game matching organism cards to their habitat and listing the various adaptations each one has to help it survive.

The third and final part of the Coastal Exploration Program, the field trip, allows students to observe these animals’ coastal habitats first-hand! Students explore a muddy salt marsh, brackish water estuary, sandy dunes and a barrier beach. Throughout this field trip students closely examine each habitat and observe live animals in their natural state, carefully handling crabs, shrimp and shellfish when appropriate. For many of these students, this is their first time stepping onto the sand.

Many students return in adulthood as visitors or interns to the Lloyd Center, still singing praise for the Coastal Exploration Program and the experiences it gave them. These moments, although brief in the eyes of an educator, can have lasting effects on the lives of many.

by Katie Houseman, Lloyd Center Educator/Naturalist