Archive | Summer 2010

Daily updates from the 2010 Summer Institute

MARE Summer Institute 2010

Welcome to the MARE Summer Institute 2010! We have been a busy bunch of educators!  Over the past four days we have been working very hard to internalize the ocean science concepts and activities that we can incorporate into our own classrooms and curricula.

Heave! Ho! 100 feet to go!

On Monday we were able to head out to the first bridge next to our home base, the JCNERR, to seine with our favorite ichthyologist Motz! Tuesday brought on another bunch of interesting adventures.  We took a trip to Island Beach State Park to do some mapping activities and also hit the bay for some exploration via kayak.  That was a fun day!  I haven’t done that much paddling in a long time! It was well worth it because of all that we experienced.  We saw everything from ospreys to moon snails and we even got a close up with a very large blue crab.  Fortunately, we had Ane help us sketch some “kinder” crabs with a really cool chalk pastel sketching activity. After a day like that I can understand why we need to remember to give our students appropriate time to process information–pondering is very important!  That afternoon we worked on our media projects–earlier in the week Sage asked us to put together a short movie about something that we found important or interesting.  He gave us the assignment to collect images, sound clips and videos to use in Microsoft Movie Maker or iMovie.  This is a fun project to do with your students, I’ve used it with decent success.  Sage intentionally did not go into great detail about each piece of digital equipment–sometimes it is better to “play” to learn. If the students are given time to “play” with the equipment, they tend to have a stronger recollection on how to navigate the controls.

A place to ponder...

If you try this method and activity remember to remind the students that they are all to help each other.  If someone knows how to do something, they have the opportunity to teach another student how and then that student can “pay it forward” as well. Wednesday was a life changing day for me.  We were able to visit the Seawatch International clam docks in Atlantic City.  For those people who are attending the MARE Institute for the first time, keep in mind that as MARE trainers we also learn a lot from our experiences.  Remember that we are students too!  Later Wednesday afternoon I was to present a lesson on sustainable seafood.  The lesson is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium called Rate A Plate.  I didn’t realize how important the lesson was to bringing the message of sustainability directly into our students lives.  After hearing Guy present the process of harvesting clams and the issues that they face regarding sustainability, it made my lesson more important than ever.  I hope that I was able to translate that importance to our attendees.  As simple as it sounds, we have a huge role in the demand for sustainable seafood and you all heard it on the docks!  Supply and demand–simple economics drive almost everything in the seafood industry.  If we demand sustainability as consumers, the providers will have to supply… The afternoon culminated with a wrap up from Dr. Carolyn Creed about Surf Clams and Climate change.  I really enjoyed her energy!  I had the pleasure, earlier in the day, of sharing a meal with Carolyn, Ane and Rob.  What a diverse group of minds!  I was enthralled with our table-talk.  Have any of you ever wished that a conversation could have been heard on Capitol Hill?  If so, that was one of those types of conversations.

Later Wednesday evening we had a beautiful banquet to celebrate the week and award MARE Teacher of the Year.  Janice presented Ari Daniel Shapiro’s podcast, Accentuate the Positive.  I cannot express how important this idea is to my philosophy of teaching.  Every day we make a conscious choice to be positive or negative.  Not necessarily when we wake up in the morning–“am I going to be positive or negative today?”  It happens in the little moments–do we smile at the kids in the hallway?  Stop to lend a hand to someone?  Give someone a second chance?  Go the extra mile to find out how to inspire an uninspired student?  Take a risk and venture out of our educational comfort zone to present a lesson to a student who learns differently?  Those moments are so small that if we aren’t aware of them, we often will miss an opportunity.  As educators we have no idea the extent of the impact that we have on our students’ futures.  I have had the honor of having a few former students return to tell me how I had a positive impact on their lives.  I can tell you that it is hard not to well-up with tears of pride when hearing those stories.

I can equate it to our current situation regarding our marine environments:  the little things that we do now to educate the public in a positive way will someday have a greater positive impact on our precious marine environments than we can currently conceive.  That is why I think it is so important that we keep trying to spread the word. Thursday arrived with a room full of weary spirits!  I don’t know about the rest of you but I was beat by Thursday morning!  I have to give the participants credit, you guys really stuck it out!  We put all of you through activities that you wouldn’t normally do and you participated, voluntarily and con gusto!  A funny example of this willingness to participate happened when Motz asked us to take the smaller seine net to the southern side of the first bridge.  It was a very peaceful setting and the bugs were minimal, as was the heat.  So Motz asked for a few volunteers to seine with this net, which was a lot easier to handle than the 100-footer that we used across the street.  I wanted to get wet so I volunteered.  Amy volunteered as well.  Motz got one side and Amy and I took the other side of the net.  As Motz decended into the shallow tidewater, he encouraged us to do the same.  Amy and I stepped into the water.  The first step was easy.  The second was not.  Amy and I simultaneously sank almost three feet into the soft silt of the lagoon bottom.  Panic immediately coursed through my mind!  I turned around and I saw the same look on Amy’s face!  I actually think I yelled at Motz asking him “how deep does this get?”  He just hollered back “just keep going, this is as deep as it gets!”  I glanced back at Amy to see if she was still on board.  Even with the two of us freaking out, she nodded and asked if I was ok.  It was her affirmation that kept me going(a little moment of positivity goes a long way).

The Big Haul

We continued out into the water and helped each other navigate the three foot deep mud.  It wasn’t easy and both of us were shaken.  But we did it!  We were able to drag the net back onshore to see what glorious bounty we seined.  There wasn’t much in the net.  Except for a huge blue crab, which Motz confidently picked up and showed to the downstream frustrated crabbers before sneering and throwing it back to his home.  This was a new experience for me and I would like to thank Amy for helping me overcome my fears of the “lagoon mud”, of which, as anyone in my family is reading this knows(Danny), I am horribly afraid.

Every year that I have been a part of the MARE Summer Institute, I always feel a little sad as the week comes to a close.  However, on that last day when we asked the participants to share their ideas of how we can collectively and individually incorporate the important ideas about ocean science into our teachings, I felt a certain happiness.  Every member of our newest MARE team was able to envision themselves passing on these lessons to the kids.

I cannot wait until I start hearing some of your ideas!  If any of you ever need any help, PLEASE, post your questions here!  We all need to have a common place to share ideas and improve upon them!  I don’t ever mind answering emails but that is only a two way communication.  If we post our questions, ideas and thoughts here or in our forums we can collectively create more interactive and sustainable ocean science lessons!


2010 MARE Summer Institute: Let’s Get Physical, Day 4

Kinesthetic Fun With Rob Causton

The MARE curriculum is an all inclusive smorgasboard!  Knowledge from the classroom is included in physical education games and activities, thanks to the imagination and talent of Mr. Rob Causton.  Participants worked cooperatively in teams during the Vent Shrimp Kinesthetic Activity, where bean bags represented vent shrimp who must live in clearly defined areas surrounding hydrothermal vents in order to survive.  Physical education goals such as tossing, running, and catching were imbedded in the fun and educational activity.  For more information and corresponding core curriculum content standards please visit Mr. Causton’s website at:   Remember the words of advice from Rob, “Stay flexible, make the MARE curriculum fit your needs.  The information/ knowledge is important, not necessarily how we deliver it.”   Hints:  Special needs modifications=they take the first turns to throw the bean bags, Playing cards are a quick easy way to make (4) teams (4 suits) and order participants by number, Avoid competition (winners/losers) by having teams try to improve their own score with each round.

Measuring Temperature with Dr. Carrie

The Summer Institute crew used non-contact temperature sensors by Pasco (PS-2000) to determine the indoor and outdoor temperature in various areas.  These sensors measure temp by determining the amount of heat energy given off by an object.  They detect infrared radiation and use this value to estimate temperature.  Two kits of these sensors can be borrowed from the Marine and Coastal Science Building in New Brunswick for your classroom use.  Scientists use similar sensors on satellites to measure the temperature of the land and ocean from space.  Images are produced on computers, with red=hot   blue=cold.  Students can compare local environmental temperature with data available for daily average, state average, and country’s average.  Student friendly data is available online at:   Collecting data and using it is a key part of the MARE curriculum.   Let’s get our students thinking and acting like scientists!



 Ocean Home-Swimming Fishes with Laura Dunbar

Laura shared a great activity with a human-sized  gameboard designed by Rutgers students Jason Turnure and Jason Werrell. It was used to  demonstrate how changes in water temperature  affect fish distributions and, ultimately fisheries.  With the expected change in ocean temperature due to global climate change, many commercial fish populations will move in response. As a result this will have a “domino” effect on surrounding populations.  One Ocean, one habitat, one change, many repurcussions! Further directions and the fish cards are available on this Cosee site:

Using Literature with MARE by Karen Lobby and Crystal DiBetta

Think about your daily life, what percentage of your daily reading is nonfiction?  Most participants replied 75%, 90%.  Does your classroom reflect your daily practice?  Using nonfiction in your language arts lessons reflects the national and state standards, morrors tasks on standardized tests, and provides a way into literacy that narratives cannot.  Academic achievement in school relies heavily on informational reading and writing.  Above all, nonfiction motivates students with its beautiful, engaging and interesting photographs and information!  Be sure to refer to the list of resources Crystal provided.  A few highlights to investigate on the list:  science journals or notebooks in the 8th grade list (Antarctica, Penguins), timely books on Jacques Cousteau in the 4th grade books (100th anniversary of his birth), and the Tsunami books in the 5th grade list (going out of print).  Crystal also recommended that you join: The  National Science Teachers Assoc.  Sign up to receive their journal;  which includes the best of the best trade books, published in March. Join at:  ($75 fee, $34 if you are a new teacher of less than 5 years experience).  Crystal also recommends The National Geographic nonfiction newsletter for tips and techniques on using nonfiction  with your students. Sign up is free online at   Karen reminded the participants to utilize newspapers and other periodicals for timely information on marine science.  Encourage your students to demonstrate their knowledge in different ways: acrostic poems, build a windsock to show the zones of the sandy beach,use ABC books with any grade level where students demonstrate information in an alphabetical book  or list.  One of Karen’s hints:  Give parents and staff members a small zip lock bag when they head off on vacation to collect sand samples from around the globe for your classroom.

The Blah, Blah,Big, Big, Blog, Blog  from Susan and Mike

Remember, the purpose of this blog is to keep our community of Marvelous MARE Enthusiasts COMMUNICATING!!!

Do you have a comment on the Summer Institute?  send it to the Blog through Comments!

Do you need an idea or help with your project? send it to the Forum for an ALL Call for ideas!

Are you trying to recall the mountain of information we crammed into the 4 day Institute? Check the daily record in the Blogs!

Do you want to plan an Ocean Day or Ocean Week at your school?  Send a question out to the Forum or Check the Blog for our ideas on how we started!

You can search the Cosee site using the search box.  Blogs are “tagged” by topic to help you find the one you need.  The search box will search these “tags” for you!

Is there a topic in your current curriculum,  that you want to incorporate MARE into?  Send Mike, Laura, Karen, Crystal, Rob or Sue and email or post it in the Forum and watch the ideas swim into shore!


2010 MARE Summer Institute: Something’s Fishy in A.C. Day 3

Today, the MARE Summer Institute participants visited the Atlantic City Ocean Life Center Aquarium and toured the dock area.  What a great experience! Guy shared his vast knowledge about clams and the clamming industry. All followed by a sampling of the most delicious  recipes using local clams. The participants learned about SeaWatch, the largest harvester and processor of clam products in the world.  “Sustainable catch” were the words of the day. 



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:    Further photos and descriptions are available (the plant sheets from today’s clipboards) at:    Also, Joanne McCluskey shared some excellent photographs of the plant life on her flicker page:  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. 


2010 MARE Summer Institute: Getting Your Feet Wet, Day 1

When it comes to the MARE program, it is best to just jump right in with both feet!  Participants in the 2010 Summer Institute spent part of their first day seining in Barnegat Bay off of Seven Bridges Road in Tuckerton, with Dr. Motts Grothues.  After a wonderful group effort at pulling in the nets, a plethora of species appeared!  Needle fish, Puffer fish, Silversides, Pipe fish, Oyster Toadfish, sponges, crabs, oh my! The group collected a variety of species to bring back to the education center.

The participants examined the fish using the MARE activity “It Takes All Kinds”  This is a group discussion while observing and recording information about the species form and function. This lesson is part of the fourth grade, Kelp Forest MARE curriculum. Further explanation can be found in your Summer Institute Binder for review.

Jumping in with both feet is an excellent analogy for how to begin the MARE program in your school or club.  Don’t wait, don’t over analyze, just pick an activity that interests you or fits your materials on hand or current curriculum and learn as you try it!  When the children ask you a question that you can’t answer, just use that opportunity to investigate it together or assign students to research the answer and share it with the class. 

When bringing live species into your classroom, remember to check for allergies.  Minimize the negative comments (Ewwww, yucky) by prompting the students to say “Isn’t that interesting” instead.  Photographs could be used in place of real specimens.  Websites often have digital pictures or descriptions.  When shopping at a local bait store or fish market, red snapper, mackerel, bluefish are good choices. 

Anne Carla Rovetta entertained the attendees with two animated, interesting folktales infused with science facts during their visit to the Rutgers University Marine Field Station. The group could easily see how Anne’s wonderful voices and storytelling talents could mesmerize a group of students.  The participants even got involved with the jellyfish dance!  A wonderful reminder to remember to laugh a little in each day! One of the stories Anne referred to is available online.  “Raven Sets Things Right” is found at:   A second book she referred to can be found for purchase online: Skunny Wundy (The Iroquois and Their Neighbors) by Arthur C. Parker.  There is more to come from the talented Ms. Rovetta tomorrow!


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