Field-Based Programs

 The museum’s Chesapeake Bay Field Lab (CBFL) offers experiential, field-based programs for students in grades 4 - 12. All CBFL programs are seasonal, taking place from April through October. These include programs on our sailing skipjack, the Dee of St. Mary’s and our Fossil Field Experience.

How to Schedule a Fieldtrip
Download Printable Education Brochure
Skipjack Experience
The skipjack Dee of St. Mary’s serves as the museum’s floating classroom. Our school program is 4-hours long and involves both a shore side and a skipjack sail experience, and includes a 30-minute lunch break. It is designed to immerse the students in an unforgettable field-based experience aboard a part of our local history.

Throughout the program, students are divided up into smaller groups and rotated through learning stations. The students spend 1.5 hours working on the dock and using the resources at the museum, and 2 hours aboard the skipjack. Classes should bring their own lunches. Two classes can participate in the program simultaneously, alternating shore side and sail.

Stations aboard the Dee
Raising Sail (conditions permitting): Nothing compares to being on a sailing workboat. Students will have the opportunity to help raise the sail and experience the importance of teamwork.
Water quality testing: Students get hands on experience testing our local waters. After analyzing their sample, students will explore how changes to the levels of pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, salinity and dissolved oxygen can affect various species of fish.
Navigation: Students get hands on experience with compasses, navigational charts, and compare those to maps. Students will learn how sailors know where they are and how to get where they are going using a parallel rule and the compass rose.
Oysters: Students will have the chance to set the dredge for oysters and pull it in to see what they caught. We will explore the remarkable ecosystem that calls an oyster bar home. Students will learn the life cycle of an oyster and learn why these shellfish are threatened.
Museum-based Stations 
Human Impacts: Students explore the various ways humans impact the habitats and the animals that live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Using the River to Bay: Connections and Reflections exhibit gallery, topics such as run-off, turbidity and eutrophication.
Generations Game:  Students will simulate different implements used in oyster harvesting in the Chesapeake Bay and discuss their impact on the oyster population over time.
Oysters, Past and Present: Students will discover how oysters as a keystone species have historically impacted the Chesapeake Bay. Playing educational games, students will explore the various factors leading to the decline of both oysters and the oyster industry in Southern Maryland.
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Fossil Field Adventure
Our Fossil Field Adventure takes students onto the beach at Cove Point to search for Miocene fossils with a trained educator. Students set up a grid and each student searches within their grid for fossilized shell fragments, shark’s teeth, and bone. They learn how to identify fossils, how fossils are formed, and what they can teach us about the prehistoric world. After spending an hour on the beach, the students go to the Cove Point Lighthouse Visitor Center classroom where they measure and sketch their fossils. Here they also see examples of the types of fossils found along the Calvert Cliffs, and do a hands-on activity that demonstrates how mold fossils are formed. 
The Fossil Field Adventure takes place on the Chesapeake Bay at the site of the Cove Point Lighthouse. Students are either on the beach, or working in the Visitor Center classroom.