What to do before the adventure
Materials for the field trip: Notebooks (like a composition book) to record observations, pencils (you might bring some color pencils if you will be outside for a while), floatable toys with string attached, measuring rope or measuring tape, small plastic containers/baggies or film canisters to collect sand/sediment, sifter, picture guide (you can download pictures from this website for major organisms or you can use a guide (eg Petersen’s Guide to Seashore Animals), hand lens (at least one for every two students), child safe thermometer (optional), digital camera (optional) and paper for sun prints (optional). If you have a hat, please wear it and use sun screen.
You are about to travel through an interesting type of habitat. A habitat is a physical place where organisms live. Organisms can be individuals, part of a population (together at the same place at the same time), or communities (interacting groups). Typically, the term “habitat” refers to the physical surroundings such as light, temperature, soil, etc. (Think about how you would describe your own habitat-your home, your neighborhood, your community.)
When you first get out to the site, look around and record what you see and hear in your notebook. Make a sketch of the area or if there is a digital camera available, take a picture of the surroundings. Be sure to record the time of day and if you have access to the information, the temperature. Look up in the sky and guess at the amount of cloud cover (0%-bright, sunny, 20%-some clouds, but mostly sunny, 50%–about half clouds and half sun, 75%–mostly cloudy, some sun, 100%-completely overcast with clouds) because this can affect the types of animals that you see or hear. Record whether the wind is blowing (calm, light wind, strong breeze, gusty) and from which direction (ask your teacher the direction if you are not sure) [teacher note: this might be a chance to introduce the notion that winds are describe by the direction from which they originate while currents are described by the direction in which they travel. You can use this website or download a video to learn about clouds prior to the trip. Good websites to introduce students to some of the organisms that they will see are Sea Science or Spartina Salt Marshes.
Next: Intertidal Organisms