Upper Township students take a ‘beach walk’ at school

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The class learned to turn over upside down horseshoe crabs safely. The class learned to turn over upside down horseshoe crabs safely.

MARMORA – Every year, Upper Township Elementary School teacher Maggie Dugan and her fifth grade class holds a beach walk and invites all the students and parents to attend. The unique thing about this beach walk is that it is held right in her classroom.

It is a great hands-on learning experience where students become the teachers as they share their knowledge of the Jersey Shore with visitors to the classroom.

 

The fifth grade science curriculum includes a study of ecosystems, which is an environment and the creatures that live there. Our local ecosystem includes the shoreline and tidal pools.

The students went on a field trip to the beach in Ocean City to collect all they could find including shells, seaweed and dune grass. They brought everything back and identified each specimen. Some students also took family trips to the beach to add to the collection.

When it was time to put it all together the classroom was turned into an imaginary shoreline. The students added pictures of fish found in the ocean and birds found along the Eastern seaboard. At lunchtime they all ate in the classroom as they "picnicked on the beach."

Another feature in the classroom every year is the presence of live young terrapins that Dugan and her students help raise. At the end of the year they are released into the sea, an experience many students remember for years to come.

"As they identify each species they also learn to understand, preserve and protect it for future generations," Dugan said.

For example, she said, the students learn that if they find a horseshoe crab on its back it is safe to grab it by its sides they can turn it over to place back in the ocean. They also learn to help a turtle cross a roadway safely by picking it up by it's sides and placing it on the side of the road it was facing. Of course, they know to watch out for snapping turtles, too.

"Hopefully they are passing on their knowledge to future beach visitors, too,” Dugan said.

 

Students in Maggie Dugan’s fifth grade class at the Upper Township Elementary School took part in a “beach walk” in their own classroom. Students in Maggie Dugan’s fifth grade class at the Upper Township Elementary School took part in a “beach walk” in their own classroom.

 

 

A student “listens to the ocean” in a shell. A student “listens to the ocean” in a shell.

 

The fifth grade classroom was transformed into a shoreline by students, who found beach items on the Ocean City beach during a field trip. The fifth grade classroom was transformed into a shoreline by students, who found beach items on the Ocean City beach during a field trip.


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