8th Grade Marine Science Curriculum

St. Johns County School District’s
MARINE SCIENCE PROGRAM

MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM
(students entering the 8th 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 14 students by grade level. Each class rotates to another instructor every two days.)

FIRST ROTATION:
SALT MARSH ECOLOGY, FRESHWATER SPRINGS ECOLOGY AND GEOLOGY, KAYAKING SKILLS AND SAFETY, SNORKELING SKILLS AND SAFETY

Day 1
Students will participate in lecture and activities on detrital energy flow in a salt marsh. The instructor will discuss kayaking skills and safety procedures. Students will then go kayaking on the tidal creeks adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in the Marineland area. The emphasis will be on identifying salt and brackish water plants and animals and observing primary and secondary detritus feeders. Emphasis will also be on identifying edible coastal plants. Students will use cast nets, seine nets, marine worm suctions, and Ponar grab samplers to collect specimens for identification. All specimens will be released on site.

Day 2
After a lecture on the underground springs and aquifer system of Florida, the instructor will discuss snorkeling skills and safety procedures. Students will then travel to Blue Springs Park where they will view freshwater plants and animals in their natural habitats while snorkeling. Students will also compare dissolved oxygen content to the presence of aquatic species and collect ongoing water quality data for park biologists. Students will hike the lowland hammock area surrounding the spring and discuss the importance of Florida’s aquifer system and freshwater springs. The trip will return late.

SECOND ROTATION:
PHYSICAL DYNAMICS OF WAVE ENERGY, SURFING SKILLS AND SAFETY, WINDSURFING AND SAILING SKILLS AND SAFETY

Day 1
The physical dynamics of waves and the generation of wave energy on St. Augustine’s beaches will be discussed. Computer generation will show how waves are created through wind transferring energy into the ocean through wind strength, duration, and fetch. Topics will include origins of coastal wave energy, ocean bottom contours and their effects on wave energy, and using Internet sites (NOAA) for forecasting waves through the reading of marine buoys and weather patterns. After a discussion about the skills, techniques, and safety procedures needed to surf, students will travel to the lifeguard area at Anastasia State Park for a three hour surfing lesson with Surf Station instructors.

Day 2
Students will discuss the science and history of sailing. They will conduct an experiment demonstrating Bernoulli’s Principle showing how the difference between high and low pressure creates suction or lift that is utilized by sails. The instructor will then present and discuss a video about windsurfing and sailing skills and safety procedures. The students will travel to Anastasia State Park where they will participate in a four hour sailing and windsurfing lesson taught by Windsurfing St. Augustine instructors.

THIRD ROTATION:
STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING (SUP), PLANKTON STUDIES, BIOLOGICAL SAMPLING TECHNIQUES

Day 1
Students will begin the day with a lecture on the life-long benefits of nutrition and exercise. The emphasis will be on developing strength and athletic skills through recreational water activities. Following a video presentation on the skills and safe use of SUP’s, the class will travel to the Summer Haven area where they will practice stand up paddle boarding on the program’s set of SUP’s. While half the class is on the water with one instructor, the other students with a second instructor will visit Ft. Matanzas National Park and discuss the natural and historical importance of this area. They will then take the park service’s boat over to the old Spanish fort on Rattlesnake Island. Students in both groups will then rotate activities.

Day 2
Students will participate in a lecture and discussion on the ecological importance of plankton’s role in the aquatic/global food chain. Students will take plankton tows in the Intracoastal Waterway and the adjacent inlet at Summer Haven. Students will return to the lab to identify and compare their plankton samples under the microscope and videotape microscope scenes of live plankton.

FOURTH ROTATION:
COASTAL ECOSYSTEM COMPARISONS, SAMPLING TECHNIQUES AND DATA COLLECTION, CANOE TRIP

Day 1
The class will participate in a class discussion of the factors in an ecosystem highlighting the interdependence between organisms, abiotic factors, and energy flow. There will also be a discussion of canoeing safety and techniques. The class will then travel to the Pellicer Creek estuary. There they will canoe from Faver Dykes Park to Princess Place to visit and compare various ecosystems such as spartina and juncus marshes, mud flats, and oyster beds. They will sample for organisms using seine nets, cast nets, yabbie pumps, and bottom dredges. They will also test for O2 and salinity and record all data.

Day 2
In the classroom, students will review basic Biological Classification, with a focus on differentiating between vertebrate and invertebrate marine animals. The class will then travel to the University of Florida’s Whitney Lab at Marineland. There they will collect samples of plankton, marine plants, and invertebrate animals from the lab’s dock on the Intracoastal Waterway. They will then participate in a microscope lab and identify the organisms in their samples. The will also participate in a hands-on study of marine invertebrates learning about the life cycle and habits of organisms such as horseshoe crabs, sea stars, spiny lobsters, blue crabs, horse conchs, and other organisms that are being studied by the scientists working at Whitney Lab. On their return to school, they will stop off at Matanzas Inlet to practice using seine and cast nets.

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 kits, Ponar grab sampler, marine worm suction tubes, YSI flow meter, plankton nets, pH meters, cast and seine nets, plant presses, GPS chart plotter, VHS radio, depth recorder, and quadrate sampling equipment.