Bay Grasses in Classes Kicks Off
Eleventh Season With
Teacher Trainings in January
January, 2008 - The
Bay Grasses in Classes (BGIC) project is a joint partnership with the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).
Since 1998, over 1,568 classes and 40,970 students have been involved with Bay
Grasses in Classes. During this time students have planted over 3.0 acres of
bottom surface in the Bay with the 500,000 plants grown in their classrooms. In
2004, for the first time, annual aerial surveys taken by the Virginia Institute
of Marine Science (VIMS) have mapped healthy grass beds planted by students in
Eighty returning teachers as well as 20 new teachers from across
the State of Maryland participated in training sessions in January. During
training, teachers were provided with the curriculum materials and introduced to
online resources necessary to educate their classes on the importance of bay
grasses. In addition, materials necessary to construct bay grass growth chambers
in their classrooms including: aquarium equipment, sediment, and seeds or adult
plants were distributed.
Over the course of the next few months, teachers will actively
engage students in each phase of growing bay grasses: mixing the soil, setting
up the aquaria, and planting seeds or vegetative material from adult plants.
Each week, teachers will lead students through monitoring growth of plants,
collecting water quality data, and entering data into an on-line data entry
system housed on the Bay Grasses in Classes Website.
this spring, students will transport the grasses to a predetermined restoration
site throughout the state to plant the grasses. As part of the planting field
trip, students will also take part in educational activities including seining
and water quality activities designed to reinforce their knowledge of bay
grasses and other aspects of Chesapeake Bay health. By studying the ecological
importance of bay grasses and actively participating in restoration, students
also will gain a sense of stewardship of the Bay.
Bay grasses (also known as submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV) are critical
to a healthy Chesapeake Bay. They provide important habitats for fish and crabs,
serve as food for waterfowl, help protect shorelines from erosion, keep water
clear by trapping sediments, consume excess nutrients, and add oxygen to the
water. Current bay grass populations are less than 25 percent of historic
levels, mainly due to excessive nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment
pollution resulting from human activities clouding the water and preventing
sufficient sunlight from reaching the plants.
For more information contact Mark Lewandowski at (410) 260-8634 or e-mail
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