Connecting with Delaware's youth is important for the future of the environment, and a great way to get kids excited about learning is to go on field trips. DNREC organizes an extensive number of educational programs geared toward students of all ages and abilities, with many targeting specific grade levels to coordinate with school curricula. These programs can take place in the classroom or in parks and other outdoor locations to incorporate alternative teaching methods for students with different learning styles, as well as help students make connections between what they're learning and everyday life.
Delaware State Parks: Valuable for All Ages
You're never too young or old to learn more about where you live. What was Delaware like in the past? How has it changed? What important functions do plants and wildlife serve? How do we use the environment around us? Learn all the answers through visiting Delaware State Parks. DNREC has created a Teacher's Guide to help plan field trips and classroom visits that are tailored to specific grades and compliment what the students have already been learning in their daily lessons.
The word cloud above uses the names of the State Parks programs offered in the Teacher's Guide to help highlight popular topics. The bigger the word, the more programs there are that explore that theme. History, the environment, and how the two areas relate are important insights that can be gained from these field trips and outreach efforts.
Delaware State Parks is using data now more than ever to make sure they are reaching the desired audience. One way they do this is by tracking how many students they reach and how many programs they deliver for each participating school. In the 2017-2018 academic year, State Parks reached 23,124 students from 140 schools in Delaware. This information can be broken down in different ways to see how well the programs they offer match up with the targeted age groups. A lot of resources are dedicated to reaching elementary school-age children, partly because the developing minds of young children are impressionable at this point in their lives, and because elementary school classes are more likely to go on field trips than older age groups. However, DNREC is always seeking to expand their audience and the programs they provide.
Learn and explore with the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve
The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) has two components in Delaware: the St. Jones and Blackbird Creek. Outreach is a major component of DNERR's mission, along with stewardship and research. They host a variety of programs for students, even those who are home-schooled, and teachers in order to promote a better understanding of Delaware's estuaries and coastal areas.
Classroom visits present topics such as estuaries, horseshoe crabs, pollution, and watersheds. Field trips to the Reserve allow adventures to be taken into the marsh, onto the beach, or even on a boat. Classroom visits and field trip options are free of charge, and leave students with a wealth of knowledge.
The AREC is an interpretive center complete with outdoor classrooms as well as Mallard Lodge to help teachers provide meaningful educational and outdoor experiences for their students. Teachers and youth group leaders can borrow learning kits focused on wetlands, fishing, horseshoe crabs, and other aquatic education themes to use at the onsite interpretive areas, fishing ponds, and salt marsh boardwalk, or in classroom and school yard lessons.
The Eco-Explorers program is a field trip for 5th-graders offered at the AREC that ties into the Delaware Ecosystems science unit in the classroom. Focusing on salt marsh ecosystems, activities relate to water chemistry, food webs, plant and animal adaptations, and other ecological topics. In-class materials are provided to participating teachers ahead of time in preparation for the trip. On site, students rotate through stations where they complete guided fieldwork to reinforce their classroom knowledge with tasks that real scientists perform when studying ecosystems.
The DNC is an aquatic education and interpretive facility where visitors can experience exhibits devoted to the Delaware Bay’s natural history and ecology, with a focus on horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds that visit the harbor each spring. Exhibits include aquariums featuring live horseshoe crabs, fish, shellfish, and terrapins, as well as educational videos and a live nature camera and osprey camera.
At the DNC, field trip opportunities for schools and youth organizations are offered from April through September. The Life at the Edge field trip program is geared toward pre-school through 5th grade with a focus on horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, and the Delaware estuary. Groups may also participate in a beach exploration component at nearby Slaughter Beach.
Page reviewed 2/8/19