Students will conduct hands-on experiments as they rotate through learning stations on and in Long Island Sound, at coastal habitats, in the SoundWaters laboratory and on our fleet of canoes. Students will be divided into small groups to assess the quality of Long Island Sound’s waters, collect data, measure species populations and examine trends in coastal erosion. The SoundWaters program is unique and unlike any other you will experience and will increase students scientific literacy and develop their critical thinking skills. Make this an experience that your students will remember and customize your program length, activities and experiments to support and amplify your classroom lessons.
Discover the variety of animals in the Long Island Sound watershed ecosystem. Learn how they adapt to changes including other populations, biotic and abiotic factors, food supply, predator / prey dynamics and water variations daily and over time. Determine who is a producer, scavenger or predator. Animals include: Diamond back terrapin, Horseshoe crab, flounder, oyster toad fish, spider crabs, oysters, sea stars etc.
Invasive Species Population Study:
To accurately assess population trends, a baseline survey must be conducted and then repeated. Students will examine Asian Shore Crabs, which play an important ecological role in the Long Island Sound food web. A decline in the number of crabs will impact other species. Students will follow field testing protocol to determine the population of crabs and other coastal species along a transect at the rocky shore. Students will assess and explain how human actions and weather impact coastal populations.
Coastal Habitat field experience:
An inquiry based hands-on exploration of the sandy beach and salt marsh. Emphasizing the fact that diversity and different life cycles of all organisms are important for the survival and health of Long Island Sound. Using transects students will conduct a population study of crab species, get up close and personal with the salt marsh and see why they rank among the most productive ecosystems on earth, discover and observe adaptations of local species at the sandy beach.
Horseshoe Crab Blood Lab:
In this bio-engineering experiment students will conduct an in-depth examination of the horseshoe crab’s anatomy and test and asses the importance of their blood to the medical field. Students will simulate real science in action. Using pipettes and microscopes, students will use the “blood” to determine which “vaccine” sample is contaminated.
Coastal Habitat Population Study -Seining
Teamwork in action! Students will work together and follow sampling protocol to collect local shallow animals including crabs, shrimp and fish. Using a dichotomous key students will identify and tally the animals and analyze the data. The population data will help recognize trends related to predator/prey relations, food sources and more. This is an in water learning station. Students are required to wear chest waders and lifejackets.
Canoe on Holly Pond
Teamwork in action! Paddle 14′ canoes on Holly Pond with your class. This distinctive opportunity is a wonderful way to engage every student in a different perspective when performing science experiments. Measure the slope of coastal substrate, test the water flow rate of a tidal pond and water quality variable to compare the data to Long Island Sound data points. Discuss human impact on coastal resiliency and habitats as you see the coastline firsthand.
Water Quality Comparative Analysis
The presence of human populations near waterways can have a dramatic effect on the quality of the water. Students will examine water samples for four locations throughout Connecticut and the Long Island Sound to discover how different land uses can impact water quality. The students will use scientific equipment to test the salinity and nitrate levels of four water samples. They will then examine four possible locations on a map and discuss how the water quality parameters could vary between these locations. The students will work as a group to compare water quality data tested and assign a water sample to each location on the map and discuss the results as a class. Students will come up with solutions for how to reduce human impact on the different areas.
Micro-plastics lab experiment
Single use plastics have become a large problem in the marine environment and become broken down into small components called micro-plastics. Students will conduct an experiment to compare the amount of small plastics in the water of Long Island Sound at two different locations, one in an open water area and one located near a salt marsh habitat. The students will isolate micro-plastics from the water sample using scientific equipment and analyze the sample with a microscope to discover various types of micro-plastics that may be present. They will compare the findings for each location and discuss how the salt marsh habitat is able to act as a filter for Long Island Sound.
Soil Erosion and filtration
The land contains a variety of permeable and impermeable surfaces, which can affect runoff and water quality. Students will be comparing the composition of ground materials found in an urban developed area and a park located along a waterway. The students will collect samples of earth materials and reconstruct the two areas as if they were a land developer planning a new project. They will construct the new areas and examine how runoff moves through each area. They will compare the runoff sample before and after it moves through and discuss the most efficient way to reduce runoff.
Coastal shoreline survey
Coastal resiliency can be affected by changes to the composition of coastlines including the addition and removal of natural materials. The students will conduct a canoe survey of a coastal tidal where they will examine the presence of salt marsh habitat and sea walls to discuss how erosion can occur over time in each of these areas and how to prevent impact from large storm surges. The students will analyze evidence of erosion and human impact due to development of coastal areas and discuss solutions on how to prevent storms and wave impact from affecting coastal areas.