6th Grade Marine Science Curriculum

St. Johns County School District’s
MARINE SCIENCE PROGRAM

MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM
(students entering the 6th grade in August of 2017)

TWO WEEK SESSIONS:
May 30 to June 8
June 12 to June 22
June 26 to July 7 

Students are assigned to small classes of approximately 12 students by grade level. Each class rotates to another instructor every two days. To accommodate the large number of students applying to the program and still keep class sizes small, we will have two sixth grade groups, A and B. Each group will do identical activities but on different days with different instructors.

FIRST ROTATION:
SALT MARSH ECOLOGY, KAYAKING SKILLS AND SAFETY, SALT MARSH ECOLOGY II, CANOEING SKILLS AND SAFETY

Day 1
Students will participate in lecture and activities on the energy flow in salt marshes. This will include a video presentation and identification activities of local marine plants and animals. The instructor will then discuss kayaking skills and safety procedures. Students will then travel to the Granny’s Pond area of Summer Haven for a kayak trip up the Summer Haven River. Students will use cast nets, seine nets, and Ponar grab samplers to collect specimens for identification. All specimens are released after identification.

Day 2
After a lecture on the formation of freshwater springs and their unique animal and plant life, the instructor will discuss snorkeling skills and safety procedures. Students will then travel to Alexander Springs Park where they will actively participate in snorkeling, view freshwater plants and animals in their natural habitats, and discuss the underground springs and aquifer system of Florida.

SECOND ROTATION:
FRESH WATER ECOLOGY I, SNORKELING SKILLS AND SAFETY, STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING (SUP), NUTRITION AND EXERCISE

Day 1
Students will participate in a discussion of the economic, recreational, and esthetic importance of our local salt marsh ecosystems. The instructor will discuss canoeing skills and safety procedures. Students will then travel to the windsurfing station area at Anastasia State Park where they will practice safe canoeing techniques. Following this practice session, students will take a canoe trip up Salt Run where they will observe and discuss the recreational potential of salt marsh areas.

Day 2
Students will discuss coastal dune geography and the characteristic plants and animals of high energy beaches. They will then travel to Anastasia State Park for guided trips into the dune and beach areas with park naturalists. After lunch at the park, students will return to school to participate in a hurricane simulation lab experiment demonstrating the process of erosion.

THIRD ROTATION:
CPR PRE-CERTIFICATION, WATER SAFETY, FRESH WATER ECOLOGY II

Day 1
Students will practice CPR techniques and first aid skills with a licensed EMT instructor. They will display CPR proficiency through practice on mannequins and a written test. Students will also become familiar with and practice using AED’s. Actual two-year CPR certification can be acquired by students during their second year in the program. Students will also participate in a discussion and slide presentation of hazardous marine animals (prevention and treatment). They will then take a field trip to the YMCA pool for a water safety lesson with YMCA swimming instructors.

Day 2
After a freshwater ecology and crocodilian biology lecture, students will discuss the role of reptiles in Florida’s ecology. They will then travel to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm for a day-long experience which includes behind the scenes “hands-on” activities.

FOURTH ROTATION:
COASTAL UPLAND HABITATS, BICYCLE TRAIL RIDE, SHELL AND FOSSIL IDENTIFICATION

Day 1
Students will discuss the various types of coastal upland habitats with an emphasis on characteristic plants and animals. Following a lesson on bicycle safety, students will travel to Princess Place Park where they will ride trails through the park’s various upland habitats on the program’s single speed beach cruiser type bikes. Students will also practice cast netting and seine netting techniques at Pellicer Creek in the park. (Students must be capable bike riders for this activity.)

Day 2
Students will begin the day with local shell identification activities in the classroom. They will also learn the ecological niches of the living animals. The lecture will include the Pliocene history of underwater Florida and the formation of fossils. They will then travel to the rocky, coquina beach of Washington Oaks State Park to walk the beach, collect shell fragments, and look for fossilized sharks’ teeth. Upon their return to school, students will work with whole shells to identify and classify the broken remains. They will then sift and hunt for sharks’ teeth, shell fragments, and other marine fossils in gravel sediments from Hogtown Creek in Gainesville and compare the pre-historic and current artifacts. They will be able to keep fossil fragments they find from the Pliocene era sediments.

ALL CLASSES:
Students will develop skills for using various marine ecology instruments and tools such as: hydrometer, secchi disk, Kemmerer water sampling bottle, water quality test kits, dissolved oxygen test kits, Ponar grab sampler, marine worm suctions, cast and seine nets.