Education Month in Review: May 2023

Sixth graders at 27 mile

By Cristina Reo

May brought warmer weather and longer days. With shorebirds passing through the Copper River Delta and the school year coming to an end, the education staff was very busy. May kicked off with the 2023 Shorebird Festival. We sure felt a lot like shorebirds as we “migrated” all over town for various events we hosted. The education staff nature journaled with the third and fourth graders, courtesy of The Net Loft bringing John Muir Laws into town. John taught the third and fourth graders the basic concepts of nature journaling and reassured them that anyone can be an artist; it just takes a little bit of practice. One of our education specialists tabled at the Cordova Center, spreading the word to out-of-town visitors about the research the Science Center conducts.

We hosted our first Discover Cordova for the summer; the theme was, of course, shorebirds. Kids practiced using binoculars, made their own shorebird using items found in nature, completed shorebird puzzles, and more. We also hosted a group of 40 students from Valdez. We took them birding, teaching them about bird banding, binocular use, and more. We also did a fun Oil Spill in a Pan activity with them while discussing the importance of the work we do here at the Science Center. Finally, we hosted Tour de Peeps for families to bike or walk around town and learn more about shorebirds, bird banding, and bird adaptations through a series of educational games and activities. We ended the Shorebird Festival with a calming Bird Yoga session here at the Science Center.

Our Discovery Room program was packed full of field trips this month where we took the Mt. Eccles Elementary Schoolers all over Cordova.

  • We treated our kindergarten and first grade classes with a joint field trip to the Science Center. They went tide pooling at Fleming Spit, learned about how the world’s oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface in a fun game of catch, learned about camouflage and how it helps these nearshore critters survive through arts & crafts and a game, and toured the Science Center.
  • Second graders got to enjoy a pizza party. They made pesto for a pizza party using the basil they grew in their hydroponic gardens. In addition, they went out on a field trip to One Eyed Pond to look for and learn about aquatic insects.
  • Third grade capped off their “year of birds” by attending a fun-filled field trip to Hartney Bay to watch the shorebirds feed, learn about bird banding, work on their binocular skills, practice their newly acquired nature journaling skills, and play on the mudflats.
  • Fourth grade students also had a fun-filled trip to Hartney Bay where they watched the shorebirds, participated in a scavenger hunt, played bird bingo, and played in the mudflats.
  • The fifth graders ended their “year of salmon” with two field trips. They first journeyed to the harbor where they participated in a scavenger hunt, uncovering just how important salmon are to our local economy. They identified different types of fishing boats, fishing and safety gear, and met with local fishermen. The second field trip was to Fleming Creek to release the salmon fry they raised in the salmon tank. These field trips were conducted in partnership with the Copper River Watershed Project.
  • The sixth graders ended their time in elementary school and Discovery Room days with a bang on the 6th grade overnight! They completed a scavenger hunt that took them all across the Copper River Delta, making many stops along the way to learn about the cultural history of the area, how the U.S. Forest Service maintains the land, look for wildlife, collect trash, and so much more! After their long scavenger hunt, we ended up at 27-mile where we talked about the Copper River, how far the river travels, and how valuable it is for our ecosystem. Then we headed back to camp where we played games, ate hotdogs, and roasted s’mores. The next day we broke out into three groups and participated in one of three different activities: a day at Sheridan Glacier, a hike through Pipeline and McKinley Trails, and a day learning about wetlands with the Copper River Watershed Project. Throughout this campout, the sixth graders bonded through teamwork challenges, connected more deeply with this amazing place we call home, and had a lot of fun!

The Little Dippers ended their year of outdoor exploration and play with some sun-soaked days spent adventuring, tide pooling, crafting, and biking.

We hosted a watch party for the Prince William Sound Natural History Symposium that occurred on May 16th. Various people stopped by throughout the day to watch the symposium.

The last days of May brought about the first week of summer camp! You may see our campers from the Headwaters to Ocean Camp out and about as they tidepool, hike to the Sheridan Glacier, and wade through the Alaganik Slough.

The education staff is looking forward to seeing you this summer for more events. Check our calendar here.