Elms Environmental Education Center

4th Grade

Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Structure & Function of Aquatic Organisms

Overview: Students will analyze maps of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and create a watershed model to develop an understanding of what a watershed is and gain information about impacts of natural Earth processes and humans on the watershed. Students will take a closer look at the aquatic organisms that live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and how their structures and functions help them survive in their environment.

Dip-netting in the fresh water pond

Dipnetting for aquatic organisms in the pond.

Students building a watershed model

Students build and describe their watershed model.

Students dip-netting in brackish water

Students use dipnets to observe organisms adapted to brackish water.

Location: This field study is conducted by Elms Environmental Education Center educators at Elms Environmental Education Center in Lexington Park, MD. Any questions regarding the trip, including scheduling and special concerns, should be directed to Elms Environmental Education Center.

Typical Day (schedule is subject to change and may vary based on weather, transportation and needs of the individual class):

9:15am Bus pickup at school (8:45am for early schools)

Arrival at field study site. Welcome & Introduction

Morning Activities


Afternoon Activities

Review and Wrap-up : 2:15 pm bus departure (1:45 pm for early schools)

Chaperones: Chaperones are vital to the success of our field studies, serving as active program assistants and small group leaders. Approved volunteers are selected by the classroom teacher. Remember to pack your lunch and dress for a day outdoors. *Please set your phones to vibrate/silent during the field study.*

Prepare for Your Trip

What to Wear:

  • Dress for participation in outdoor activities and remember to choose clothes and shoes that can get wet and dirty.

  • Check the the weather for your field study site - Elms Environmental Education Center in Lexington Park, MD. Temperatures near the water can be 10 degrees COLDER (and more windy) than at home or school.

  • Layers are great for cold weather. Dress for the high temperature, and layer for the low.

  • Hats are recommended.

  • Bring your rain gear when rain is expected.

  • Don't forget to pre-apply sun block and insect repellent before you leave home (if desired).

Food and Drink:

  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers, if possible.

  • Be prepared to recycle and compost any lunch remains (carry out if Greenwell State Park).

  • Bring water to drink, in a reusable water bottle (labeled with your name), if possible.


  • $10 for day program

*Maps are free to print and use for non-commercial purposes only.