At Rocky Hill School, the wildlife down by the bay is very important to the Mariners. By using the outdoor Harkness table, garden classroom, and salt marsh, the great outdoors is incorporated into the students’ curriculum. Currently, all students at Rocky Hill have the privilege of enjoying a hands-on experience down by the water, but what would happen if some of the animals that inhabit the local ecosystems disappeared? In the past, students have conducted studies involving terrapin turtles, birds, and crabs. In a few shorts years, it is very possible that the population of most of our salt water animals will decrease at a rapid rate.
Recently, The World Wildlife Fund released the Living Planet Report. According to the data collected, animal populations have dropped 58% since 1970. Scientists believe that deforestation, climate change, hunting, rising sea levels, and an increase in human population have caused the significant decrease in animal populations. Animals that inhabit lakes, rivers, and wetlands are the most affected by environmental epidemics. In the past 40 years, the vast amount of species that inhabit these territories have experienced a population decrease of 81%. The constant sea level rise is primarily caused by global warming. When the temperature of water increases, it expands. Northern glaciers are melting due to an increase in temperature. This temperature escalation affects the growth of algae, which is the primary source of food for most sea organisms. Other marine species have to journey to a new home with appropriate, ideal temperatures. However, most won’t survive that journey. Before 2020, two-thirds of the wildlife population in the United States could disappear. How does this affect students at Rocky Hill?
In the middle school, Mr. Wheeler and his sixth-grade students are currently studying horseshoe crabs and how they reproduce. To further understand this concept, they took a field trip down to the waterfront and witnessed two horseshoe crabs mating. In the eighth grade, Mr. Jedrey teaches his class about the invasive species, Phragmites, and the salt marsh they occupy. In her Marine Biology and Oceanography class, Ms. Devault brings her students down to the water to study algae and plant species. They collect marine plants and identify them using the dichotomous key, a tool that allows the user to determine the identity of items in the natural world, such as trees, wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, rocks, and fish. Overall, the waterfront is an essential aspect of Rocky Hill’s science curriculum.
Rocky Hill has partnered with Save the Bay in order to conduct shore clean-ups in order to prevent habitat loss. Recycling also helps make people’s carbon footprint smaller because landfills are one of the largest sources of methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Next time you walk into school and see the water sparkling behind the soccer fields, take an extra second to think about how fortunate the Rocky Hill community is to interact with our marine friends.