2010 MARE Summer Institute: Where Am I? Mapping from Beach to Bay, Day 2

Good morning Island Beach State Park!  The Summer Institute participants began their day with a nature walk from the Interpretive Center at one of the few state parks on an incredibly beautiful barrier island. They were led by park personel and Dan Merchant, an environmental science student at Rutgers University.  The group’s task for the morning:  use handheld GPS devices and map the structure of the habitat from beach to bay.  Participants worked in small groups to record data such as longitude and latitude, vegetation, erosion, animal or insect life, relative temperature and soil descriptions.  Native plants such as Seaside Goldenrod, Beach Plum, American Holly and Beach Grass were identified.  Invasive species such as Japanese Sedge were also noted.  A list of plant species at Island Beach State Park is available on their website at: http://www.islandbeachnj.org/Nature/Plants/plants.html    Further photos and descriptions are available (the plant sheets from today’s clipboards) at: http://emilydecampherbarium.rutgers.edu/    Also, Joanne McCluskey shared some excellent photographs of the plant life on her flicker page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccluskjp/  As the participants walked from beach to bay, various communities became apparent.  Each one was built by the effects of wind, sand, plants, and water on the landscape.  The participants could easily identify and delineate the Primary Dune, Back Dune, Thicket, Maritime Forest, Edge, Bayshore, Fresh Water Wetland,and Tidal Marsh. 

Mobile Mapper GPS handheld unit

The group enjoyed using the Mobile Mapper GPS units. They provided longitude and latitude coordinates and a visual path of the progress from beach to bay.

Upon arrival back at the Interpretive Center, the groups used the data collected to draw large scale maps.  They worked together as they would expect their students to: melding various learning styles and individual ideas into one cohesive visual representation of the habitat.  The participants noted that the cooperative learning was a positive aspect of the experience. The completed maps and corresponding explanations were then shared with all participants.  Taking it back to your classroom: 

  • Remember the value of discovery learning, avoid giving the students too many guidelines
  • Handheld GPS devices are not essential, the mapping activity can be done with alternative materials in any habitat with various measuring units (graph paper, clay for topography representations, walking off steps/feet, 10′ lengths of string, digital cameras for recording geography or vegetation, etc.)
  • Cooperative learning is a large factor in this activity, perhaps role-play/demonstrate social skills prior to the activity (compromise, give and take, explaining your point clearly, backing up your claim with reason, division of labor, etc.)
  • This activity fits into the 4 strands described in “Ready, Set Science” (Chapter 2) Participants are learning to be a scientist!






I Can Draw After All!     Lessons with Anne Carla Rovetta

How do you get your students to feel confident enough to draw marine organisms? Well, Anne has the answer.  She was able to get the Summer Institute participants to produce beautiful, unique, amazing crab illustrations in chalk. How did she do it? Read on to find out:

  • Start with colored paper
  • Use white chalk and break the illustration down into shapes that the students can identify with such as: a watermelon with bites out of it, a banana, a piece of bread, four grapes, an olive on the end of a finger.  Add sound effects while you draw.

Show the students how to use colors (any but black) with the chalk on its side to fill in the spaces and blend with their fingertips.

Use a complimentary color (remember the color wheel?) for the eyes, to make them stand out.  Add a small amount of this color on the crab for balance.

Make the eyeball, using black and forming the letter “U”  Add a small dot of white for the reflection/sparkle in the eye.

Outline the illustration in black and add a few shadows of black by smudging with your fingertip.  Sign your masterpiece and spray it with hairspray or nonfat milk to preserve the chalk.  When commenting on student’s progress say “I love the reds.  What wonderful blues.” rather than complimenting one student’s end product (“I love your crab.”) This helps students to stay in the moment and enjoy the art, rather than focusing on a finished product with a “label or name”

The participants loved this hands-on lesson with Anne.  The quality finished products were proof that everyone really can draw! Thank you Anne for our stress free art therapy for the day. 

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One Response to 2010 MARE Summer Institute: Where Am I? Mapping from Beach to Bay, Day 2

  1. Crystal DiBetta August 13, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    Ane Carla is amazing. Every one of the crabs was beautiful and unique! And even Rob’s was fabulous although he thought he did terrible!!!

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