Assateague State Park 2014 Environmental Education For School Groups

Maryland DNR Park Service and Maryland Conservation Corps offer the following field trip opportunities at Assateague State Park beginning Spring 2014. We welcome you and your students to discover the unique ecology of a salt marsh and barrier island and the abundance of creatures that inhabit them. Through a series of rotating stations, lasting approximately 30 - 45 minutes and selected by you in advance from the following descriptions, we can set up a program schedule to meet your needs. We can generally accommodate student groups up to 100 and scheduling dates and times are flexible, but are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. A picnic area is available for bag lunches, and accommodations for individuals with disabilities will be provided upon request. Suggested appropriate age ranges are listed but some programs may be adapted for other grades.

Kids playing in play area at Assateague State Park

Activities will take place at the Beach (oceanfront or Nature Center location); or State Park Marina (bayside/ saltmarsh location on the mainland just before the island bridge). Our staff can assist with logistics involved in transporting students between sites.

A service charge for Assateague State Park field trips of $2.00 per student covers costs of materials and supplies and supports Assateague Interpretive Programs.

Please call or e-mail for more information or to schedule a field trip program for your school group.

E-mail is suggested for fastest reservation confirmation.

Contact Information: Meghan Sochowski
Phone: (410) 641-2120 x 12

If you reach voice mail, please leave a message including your name, school name, phone number or e-mail, grade, number of students, program/s requested, and potential dates.

Beach / Oceanside Programs: located at the State Park Day Use beach or Nature Center

Program: Castles in the Sand
Location: Nature Center Beach
Age Range: Activity can be adapted for grades 1-8
Description: Barrier islands are dynamic ecosystems whose sands are always shifting and moving, eroding in some places and accumulating in others. Winds, tides and storms are constantly reforming their shapes. In this activity, students will construct “developments” on a strip of barrier island. Simulations will demonstrate to students the effects of coastal storms and the importance of a well-vegetated dune line.

Program: Beach Scavenger Hunt
Location: Nature Center Beach
Age Range: All grades
Description: Students explore the beach at Assateague in search of its natural treasures. Using a “Common Shells and Artifacts Discovery Guide,” students are challenged to find examples of the shells and artifacts pictured, then return to a sharing circle to learn about and share their finds. A Shape and Texture Scavenger Hunt for younger students (pre K – K) is also available as well as an advanced version, Biological Beach Combing, for grades 5 - 8.

Program: Critter Talk
Location: Nature Center
Age Range: All grades
Description: Meet some of Assateague’s most interesting inhabitants. Check out our Nature Center exhibits and aquariums and observe horseshoe crabs, whelks, snails, turtles, fish and more. Get a close-encounter aquatic animal program and learn more about the special features that allow these amazing creatures to survive in the waters around Assateague Island.

Program: Hoots and Hisses
Location: Nature Center
Age Range: All grades
Description: An exciting up-close look at some of Assateague’s most interesting inhabitants - the screech owl, corn snake, and eastern box turtle. What adaptations do these animals have that help them to survive on the island? Learn about their habitat and importance in the island ecosystem.

Program: Raptors - Predators of the Sky
Location: Nature Center
Age Range: All Grades
Description: In all of nature, raptors are in a class of their own. What special adaptations do these birds have that make them such amazing hunters? Learn what makes a raptor a specialized bird of prey, and compare your “wingspan” with that of these fantastic flyers. You’ll enjoy a close-up encounter with a live bird of prey as we explore the world of raptors.

Program: Backyard Habitat
Location: Nature Center
Age Range: K-3
Description: Parks aren’t the only places for students to see wildlife - learn to look for wildlife all around you as we discuss the importance of local reptiles and amphibians in the ecosystem. Demonstrations will show simple ways to create inviting homes for wildlife and ideas for students to build habitats to attract animals to their own backyards and schoolyards.

Program: Good Night Owl
Location: Nature Center
Age Range: Pre-K to 2
Description: Hoo’s awake in the forest when we are all asleep? Young owl fans will enjoy an interactive story about the many daytime friends whose sounds keep Mr. Owl awake. Then we’ll meet Assateague’s own live screech owl and talk about the adaptations of this fascinating animal.

Program: Critter Storytime & Craft
Location: Nature Center or Pavilion
Age Range: Pre-K to 2
Description: Horseshoe crabs, whelks, turtles, fish… Sit back and enjoy a story about one of our Assateague critters. Students will learn about a fascinating local animal, where it lives, what it eats, and how they can help to protect their habitat. After getting a closer look, each student will create his or her own critter craft to take home.

Program: Can You Be An Assateague Animal?
Location: Nature Center Beach
Age Range: Pre-K to 2
Description: Younger students will learn about the animals that live on and around Assateague Island. Using pantomime and body poses, students will imitate some of the common critters found on the beach and in the water to learn about their unique body shapes and sizes, behaviors, and adaptations and learn the sign language for some common sea creatures.

Program: Rescue Me! Treasure Hunt
Location: Nature Center Beach
Age Range: K - 3
Description: Discover the importance of keeping beaches clean when you receive a message in a bottle from one of Assateague’s animals telling us there is trash buried somewhere on the beach! To solve the mystery of its location, you will be led on an interactive treasure hunt while exploring ways to protect the island’s wildlife.

Program: Whales Tales
Location: Nature Center
Age Range: Grades 2 to 5
Description: Whales are often seen from the beaches of Assateague. Sometimes their bones even wash up onto the shore. Learn fascinating facts about these large mammals; touch and see real whale bones found at Assateague; and compare their size to that of your students to see how big these animals areally are.

Program: Sharks! Fact or Fiction?
Location: Nature Center or Bayside
Age Range: Grades 3 to 8
Description: Just like they say in "Finding Nemo," a shark is more than just a mindless eating machine! Using artifacts, photos, and models, students will learn to identify sharks according to their external parts and similar features. An activity will demonstrate how tooth shape matches food sources. And we’ll discuss ancient shark species as well as how environmental conditions will determine the survival of shark species today.

Program: Killer Trash
Location: State Park Beach
Age Range: Grades 3 to 8
Description: Want to include a service project with your visit? How about a coastal cleanup? Not just about picking up trash, this lesson teaches students specifically about marine debris, how long it takes common trash items to decompose, and its danger to seabirds, fish and marine mammals. Armed with this information, a data collection sheet, and some Hefty bags, students comb the beach and collect debris, tallying their finds on Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Data Cards.

Marina / Bayside Programs: located at the State Park Marina area

Program: Saltmarsh Exploration
Location: State Park Marina - Bayside
Age Range: Grade 3 to 8
Description: Not afraid of getting muddy? Come with us to discover the other side of Assateague Island. Students explore the complexities of a saltmarsh, one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Use seining and clamming equipment to collect mollusks, fish and shrimp for observation and identification, and investigate the differences between salt, fresh, and brackish water. (For this activity, students will wade into the saltmarsh. We recommend wearing old clothes/bathing suits and closed-toe shoes are required for all participants.)

Program: Blue Crabs - More Than Just "All You Can Eat!"
Location: State Park Marina - Bayside
Age Range: Grades 3 to 8
Description: We know we love to eat them, but how much do you really know about this famous bay critter? Learn about its fascinating life cycle, and the role blue crabs play in managing the populations of animals they prey on. What’s the difference between soft and hard crabs? How does a crab grow? What do newborn crabs look like? How can you tell a male from a female? We’ll answer these questions and more as we try our hand at crabbing. Using hand lines, some bait and a little luck, we just might bring in a keeper!


In addition to the programs offered above, if you would like to request a special program to correspond with your specific curriculum topics, please contact us and we will make arrangements to fit your needs.