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The Great Bay Discovery Center hosts a variety of educational programs throughout the year. These include professional development opportunities for educators such as Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) and school programs for children in grades 1-5. The Center and its boardwalk are accessible to individuals with physical limitations. Please notify us ahead of time of any special needs of your students and chaperones to ensure that your scheduled program allows for everyone’s full participation: (603)778-0015.
Teachers on the Estuary
This professional training increases teacher understanding of estuary science and how to engage students in the investigation of changes in their local environments, using data from the Reserve’s monitoring programs. Through TOTE, teachers and students interact with scientists, discover information about local environmental issues, and participate in field trips and community conservation projects. Learn more!
If you are a teacher looking for online resources to help build lesson plans, this list includes sites from a variety of oganizations.
Education Programs for Grades 1-5
Come explore the amazing natural world of the Great Bay Estuary! We invite you and your class to delve “hands-first” into an interactive experience that will broaden your students’ understanding of the natural and cultural history of the region. There is a $4.00 per student charge for our school programs and $4.00 per parent chaperone.
We offer both Fall Cultural History (September to October) and Spring Natural History (April to June) field trips led by trained volunteer educators and Center staff. While our programs target 3rd-5th grade students, we can also accommodate older and younger students. Up to 72 students with chaperones can attend each session, and sessions are 2½ to 3 hours long. Most activities are held outdoors at the Center rain or shine. Reservations are required several months in advance and programs fill quickly. Please call the Center for details.
Education programs incorporate science based concepts that meet New Hampshire K-12 Science Curriculum Frameworks in the following areas: Curriculum Standards 3a., 3b., 3c., 4c., 6a., and 6b.
If you are a teacher or school administrator interested in booking a school field trip please contact Beth for more information.
Spring Natural History Program
Spring Natural History Program
The Great Bay Discovery Center offers a range of opportunities for your class to discover the Bay’s rich and diverse natural history. This program is offered to visiting school groups in April, May and June. Each field trip includes the following activities:
- Walk On the Wild Side
What furry predators hunt in Great Bay salt marshes? How is an estuary like a restaurant? What is a wetland and how do you find one? This guided hands-on and senses tuned-in investigative activity using the Great Bay Discovery Center trail will help your students discover the answers to these questions and more! Get ready to become a “nature sleuth” as you and your students explore the trail, discovering the major upland and wetland habitats along the way.
- Discovery Tank
Students gather around the discovery tank for an opportunity to hold live estuarine animals such as horseshoe crabs and green crabs.
- Waterfront Exploration
Can animals live in all of those 2000 feet of mud flats that we see at low tide around the Great Bay Discovery Center? Is Salt Marsh Peat a person? What plants and animals can you find in the deeper waters of Great Bay? Let’s poke around in some bay bottom mud, and take a look at some fascinating Great Bay creatures in this hands-on activity. We will uncover the hidden plants and animals found in and around Great Bay and explore their adaptations for survival in the estuarine environment.
- Estuary Soup
Try your hand at concocting “estuary soup” in our Great Bay Cafe. Discover all of the necessary ingredients that make up the Great Bay Estuary in this highly interactive activity. Sprinkle a little salt, grind in some bacteria, add a piece or two of detritus and plenty of phytoplankton into your bowl. Find out the rest of the recipe and make your own filter feeder meal to help you discover who else benefits from this delicious dish.
Teacher Resources: These resources can help you prepare your class for their field trip, or review what you learned when yuo get back to your classroom! We are in the process of compiling these resources and will add more as we create them.
- Great Bay Bingo! Included here are 20 different bingo cards and 5 pages of call cards. Print out the entire PDF, cut the call cards out into individual squares, and let the bingo fun begin!
- General Estuary and Great Bay Resources:
- Great Bay Estuary Natural History
- Great Bay Ecosystem
- Great Bay Treasures Booklet
- You may also request hard copies of this booklet from Beth.
- Salt marsh and estuary animals scavenger hunt
- Day at Great Bay Booklet
- A Visit to Great Bay, the Story
- A Visit to Great Bay Matching Activity
- A Visit to Great Bay Crossword Puzzle
- How Water Travels to Great Bay
- Design an Estuary Creature
- Vocabulary List
- Horseshoecrab Resources:
- Traveling Trunks:
Estuary Traveling Trunk– This trunk features activities from the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s own curriculum, called “It’s All Connected”.
Osprey Traveling Trunk– This trunk features activities from the Project Osprey Curriculum, called “Return of the Fish Hawk”.
Horseshoe Crab Traveling Trunk– This trunk features activities about horseshoe crabs.Multiple totes can be signed out at once. Contact Beth Heckman to sign out for your class. Pick up is at the Great Bay Discovery Center.
Fall Cultural History Program
The Discovery Center offers a unique Great Bay environmental heritage program in September and October. These activities encompass many of the N.H. Social Studies curriculum standards for 2nd through 5th grade as outlined in the Great Bay Discovery Center Fall Program teacher resources . Each 3-hour field trip includes the following activities:
- Bounty of the Bay
Through an interactive first person account of natural resource utilization of the Great Bay area, students will tour our newly-opened Great Bay Special Collections room located in the basement of the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center. This activity focuses on the tools that were used for the harvesting of wildlife through trapping, waterfowling, ice fishing, and shellfishing.
- Trail of the Arrowhead
Did you know that the Great Bay Discovery Center is located at a spot along the edge of Great Bay that was once used by the Msquamskek people over 400 years ago? Come along and follow the “Trail of the Arrowhead.” A guide will lead your students on a discovery walk where they will learn about native plants and animals along the way. Students will travel “back in time” as they visit an Abanaki-style fishing encampment. While in camp they will have a chance to taste smoked fish, a staple in the diet of the Pennacook and Abanaki Nations that once fished Great Bay.
- Tom Wiggin, Salt Marsh Farm Boy
Sit on the shore of Great Bay and listen to the story of Tom Wiggin, a fictitious character based on a real family that lived on Great Bay many years ago. Back in the 1800s, farmers cut salt marsh hay to feed their livestock. In this activity, your students will see real tools that were used for harvesting the hay and learn how they kept it dry at high tide. Make sure to try a taste of switchel before you leave!
- Great Bay Country Store
Gundalow boats were the first “tractor trailers” of Great Bay. They carried everyday products to many ports around the Piscataqua Basin. Products like cloth, flour, smoked fish, and sugar would then be distributed to country stores where could be purchased or traded. Join us in our own “Great Bay Country Store” to learn where these local products came from. After we make our purchases, we will climb aboard the “Driftwood II,” a dry-docked model Gundalow for a time of exploration and hands-on learning.
- General Resources About Great Bay’s Cultural History:
- Native American Related Resources:
- Gundalow Related Resources:
- Great Bay Pursuit: Cultural Edition– This is a giant floor trivia game featuring questions with answers that come from what students learn on their field trip day. Designed to be played after as a wrap up, but could be played before in preparation for the field trip. Can be played with the whole class divided into teams or as individuals. Contact Beth Heckman to sign out for your class. Pick up is at the Great Bay Discovery Center.
Get in Touch with Us
There are many educational resources at the Great Bay Reserve. Please contact us if you have questions.