Educational Programs of Interest
This site would not have been possible without the help of several partner organizations. Many of these organizations offer educational programs that you may like to have your children or students take part in.
The Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation is a foundation committed to sharing the often unknown or forgotten history and culture of African Americans in the Chesapeake Bay. It seeks to research, recognize, and honor vast contributions that African-Americans have made as watermen and in the fields of seafood packing, ship building, and ship piloting.
The foundation is in the process of developing a historical, cultural and environmental education center in Annapolis, Maryland, at the Adams Park School located on College Creek. The center will house a museum that will offer stories, research, artifacts, photographs, interviews, and multimedia installations about the men and women who have worked the Bay. The center will also offer opportunities for young people to get involved in Bay restoration projects. Visit the website for updates on the center.
Until the education center is opened, there are some opportunities for school groups to experience life on the water and learn more about Blacks in the Chesapeake. Visit the website for more program and contact information. The website also offers a printable curriculum to accompany the foundation’s book, Chesapeake Bay Through Ebony Eyes.
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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They operate fifteen environmental education programs, for students, adults, and families.
A great option for families is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Discovery Field Trips. Families can dredge for oysters on a CBF skipjack to learn about threats to the oyster population; canoe through some of the Bay’s tributaries to learn about water quality and river restoration; or tour the Chesapeake Bay by kayak. All participants must be at least ten years old for boat trips and fourteen for kayaking or canoe trips. Visit the website for details of upcoming trips.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has an incredible number and array of educational day programs and overnight trips for school groups. They range from learning about agriculture’s impact on the Bay at an organic farm, to human impact of the Bay’s tributaries by canoeing down a river, to sailing a skipjack to see how all Bay life is connected. For a very detailed description of the programs offered, applications, and fee information, visit the program website.
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The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, located in St. Michaels, Maryland is dedicated to educating the public about the Chesapeake Bay’s vast maritime culture and heritage. They offer several family and school programs, and they have a library with a wealth of related books, articles, maps, and oral histories.
There are overnight, day, and summer programs available. You and your child can spend the night at the Hooper Strait Lighthouse, learning about how lighthouse operators help protect mariners. Younger children can tour a skipjack, learn Bay recipes, touch Bay creatures, catch crabs, be pirates for the day, and much more.
The museum also offers guided tours though its exhibits. The tours are organized around specific themes, and include visits to “living artifacts” of maritime culture that are in and around the museum’s campus. Visit the website for more information.
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Living Classrooms Foundation provides hands-on educational opportunities and job skills training for students from diverse backgrounds. Their motto is "learning by doing". There are many school, summer, weekend, and after school programs offered. Young people involved in Living Classrooms projects participate in meaningful activities that focus on environmental and ecological issues, while developing math, science, language arts, history, and economic skills in the process.
The Living Classrooms Foundation offers a special Saturday family program that invites parents and children of all ages to their Weinberg Education Center. Parents and students attend separate science sessions in the first half of the program, then pair together in the second half to teach each other what they have learned. The program lasts four hours, and is available throughout the year. For more information visit their family programs website.
There are many day programs for student groups at the foundation’s Weinberg Education Center, as well as programs aboard the foundation’s ships.
Programs at the Weinberg Education Center combine hands-on environmental learning with biology, chemistry, ecology, math, language, and computer skills. Students can dissect oysters, conduct assays for the Dermo disease, research biofilm, extract DNA from plants and animals, examine chromosomes, do gel electrophoresis, and determine water quality of the Patapsco River. Most programs are day-long, available to fourth grade through college level students at different times of the year.
In the shipboard day programs, students can dredge for oysters, assist boat crew with collecting important data about oysters, examine oyster spat, and learn more about the diversity of life in oyster reefs. Other extended oyster reef restoration opportunities are also available.
For more complete program information, visit the classroom programs website.
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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state government’s office responsible for regulating, managing, and protecting wildlife and natural resources, and educating the public about those resources. Naturally, they offer a plethora of educational programs for families and school groups.
Students between the ages of 8 and 14 years can become Junior Rangers. They participate in a series of courses that develop their knowledge about conservation and recreation in Maryland’s forests and parks. All of the guidelines are provided on the Jr. Rangers website.
The DNR offers a number of residential summer camps and learning programs for children between the ages of 8 and 17. Activities at these outdoor discovery camps include: rock climbing/rappelling, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, caving, mountain biking, fishing, swimming, and arts and crafts. A complete and detailed list is provided on their website.
The DNR has a branch called TEAM DNR—Teaching Environmental Awareness in Maryland. It is a volunteer program dedicated to teaching elementary and middle school students about the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources issues in Maryland. There is a track of studies about the Bay watershed (streams and the concept of a watershed) and one about marine life. Volunteers come to your school to do presentations, and there are some off-site field trips done. Visit the TEAM DNR website to find out more about these offerings.
DNR also offers the Horseshoe Crab Project. This pilot project provides equipment, activity guides and juvenile horseshoe crabs to schools for students to learn the ecological, medical and historical importance of this species.
The DNR encourages students to participate in service learning projects. These projects can either be carried out at school, or in community settings. They include planting bay grasses, managing water quality in local streams and rivers, planting trees, constructing passageways for spawning fish, The opportunities they offer can be found at the service learning website.
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The National Aquarium in Baltimore is renowned for its exhibits and programs about aquatic life and environmental stewardship. It offers many programs for both families and school groups.
Aside from its regular self-guided tours, the Aquarium offers special “immersion tours”. These are in-depth tours focusing on specific topics of interest. Some of the past tours have explored sharks, dolphins, rain forests, and the Aquarium’s marine animal rescue program. Immersion tours range in length from a few hours to overnight. Visit their tours page for more information.
Each spring the Aquarium hosts “Grade A Student Night”. Any student with at least three A’s on their report cards receive free admission to the Aquarium for themselves and one accompanying adult. Other family members also get discounted admission on that night.
The Aquarium also offers many opportunities for families to get involved in conservation. There are a wide variety of wetlands restoration projects that could be fun and educational experiences for you and your children. Visit the conservation webpage for more information.
All of the Aquarium’s educational programs for school groups are tied to the Maryland state standards. Some programs include an in-depth look at the decimation of the Chesapeake’s oyster population and related environmental concerns, and an exploration of the fragile underwater habitats of Australia. The Aquarium offers both class visits and field trips for groups. Visit the education page of their website for more information.
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Sultana Projects is an organization dedicated to educating people about historical, cultural, and environmental issues in the Chesapeake and Delaware watersheds. It uses a replica of a traditional 18th century schooner, the Sultana, as a central part of its educational work. Students can learn about the Chesapeake both on land and onboard the Sultana.
Most of the Sultana Projects’ programs are for school groups. They do, however offer several opportunities each year for families to get aboard the Sultana, sail the Chesapeake, and experience life as an 18th century crew member. These “public sail” excursions are available throughout the year for anyone over the age of five. Most excursions depart from Chestertown, Maryland, though some depart from Baltimore and Alexandria. Check their website for specific information and dates.
Sultana Projects offers many educational programs for school groups. These include classroom visits and on-site visits.
Students can board the Sultana while it’s docked, and learn about life on an 18th century schooner. They can tour the boat, learn about the navigational equipment, discuss hardships of sea life, see the foods that crew members ate, and interpret maps.
There are also three-hour and five-hour ecology and history excursions, in which students sail the Sultana to learn about the Chesapeake Bay ecosystems. Students can conduct water quality tests, examine creatures under a microscope, discover sea life captured in an otter trawl, and many other exciting things.
View more details on the education page of their website.
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