School Programs

Preschool

Timeframe: 1.5hours

There are a lot of different ways plants and animals “grow-up” in the wild. Get hands-on with the plants and animals in Leight Park and learn just how they grow over time.

These cold blooded creatures live interesting lives! Spend time with a naturalist learning about what makes them special. Then, get up close and personal with a few of our reptile animal ambassadors.

Through stories, crafts, and activities, learn all about our scaly, slippery, water-bound friends of Otter Point Creek. Spend time getting up close and personal with a few caught right off the shore and see what makes them so unique.

Elementary School

Timeframe: 2-3 hours

From the fish that swim in the underwater grasses, to the osprey that soar in the sky, the largest estuary in the U.S. has a lot to teach us! Discover how living and nonliving pieces of the estuary ecosystem fit together through activities like fish seining, water quality testing, strolling the shoreline and more.

Discover the unique and often amazing adaptations that enable plants and animals to survive in wetland habitats. Learn how the changes in our planet are affecting these species and what you can do to help. Choose four of the following: Fish, Beaver, Turtles, Birds, and/or Wetland Plants

Middle and High School

Timeframe: 2-4 hours

We all live in a watershed, but how exactly are we connected to it? What role do we play in its health? Spend the day on and near Otter Point Creek as we find the answer to these questions through canoeing, fish seining, and water quality testing. 

From the fish that swim in the underwater grasses, to the osprey that soar in the sky, the largest estuary in the U.S. has a lot to teach us! Discover how living and nonliving pieces of the estuary ecosystem fit together through activities like fish seining, water quality testing, and strolling the shorelines.

Underwater grasses are essential to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but what exactly does that mean? Dive in with activities like fish seining, canoeing, and a shoreline walk to learn what grasses do for our water and how they help the animals that live nearby.

A freshwater marsh is a vibrant, ever-changing environment. Paddle along our canoe trail and get up close and personal with the plants and animals. Learn about this dynamic ecosystem while we travel through it.

Homeschool

Timeframe: 1.5-2 hours

From the fish that swim in the underwater grasses, to the osprey that soar in the sky, the largest estuary in the U.S. has a lot to teach us! Discover how living and nonliving pieces of the estuary ecosystem fit together through activities like fish seining, water quality testing on our boats, and strolling the shorelines.

Learn about various types of microscopes, and conduct investigations that help to familiarize students with the operation and potential of the tool. Age 5 to 10 will utilize simpler microscopes with familiar and collected items. Age 11 to 17 will use multiple types of microscopes, with camera/computer interfaces to investigate questions and create files of their findings.
Underwater grasses are essential to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but what exactly does that mean? Dive in with activities like fish seining, canoeing, and a shoreline walk to learn what grasses do for our water and how they help the animals that live nearby.

Determine what makes a fish unique, explore their adaptations, and then sample for fish in Otter Point Creek. 

Meet the herps of Otter Point Creek. Learn how to classify them, where they fit in the food chain, how they are adapted to their environment, and how we study them to determine population level and health. Age 5 to 10 focus is on hands-on Discovery Room activities and adaptations. Age 11 to 17 will conduct guided investigations of Center herps and then participate in ongoing herp research projects.

It’s important to know how healthy our water is! Learn different methods to test water quality, and how to evaluate the results. Age 5 to 10 focus will be on the ponds around the Center. Age 11 to 17 will conduct a water quality survey’s from a boat.

An excellent introduction to the external and internal structures of aquatic animals in the Estuary. Each lab includes information about the life history of the organism and its role in the Estuary ecosystem.

  • Dissection labs are available at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center
  • Price for each Lab Session: Up to 6 students=$100; Up to 10 students=$140
  • For high school students ages 14+; for younger students, speak with instructor
  • Allow a 2-hour period 
  • 2 Chaperones requested per group 

*During the Covid pandemic, only registered participants and 2 chaperones may attend the lab session (family members are welcome to explore the exhibits upstairs or hike the trails during lab time). Each student and chaperone will follow Covid protocol: masks and social distancing will be observed. Student dissection stations will be spaced apart, but personal space may be reduced during individual instruction.

3 Lab Sessions are offered: 

Session 1: Bivalves – Mussels, Clams, Oysters. Includes an in-class experiment. 

Session 2: Crustaceans – Blue Crabs, crayfish.  

Session 3: Fin Fish – White Perch or Yellow Perch, depending on availability. 

*Other sessions available upon request; price may vary from quote above.

General Program Details:

  • Each student must have a liability waiver signed by the legal guardian before participation. It can be filled out at the Center on the day of the program or requested and filled out in advance. This is only necessary at the time of the first class.
  • A list of the students who attend and the names of the chaperones who will pick up each student after class is required. Chaperones will show ID to sign student out.

At the Estuary Center, we strive to provide hands-on experiences that will help our visitors understand and connect with the natural world. Even during uncertain times, we are working hard to deliver safe programs, field trips, and outreach opportunities for our community.