5th Grade

Ecosystem Exploration by Canoe

Overview: In this field study students will examine a local aquatic ecosystem, investigating the the flow of energy and matter and the interactions of Earth’s systems. Students will explore by canoe, observing and identifying the the organisms (producers, consumers and decomposers) in the ecosystem and evidence of human impact on it. The fundamentals of teamwork in a canoe, paddling technique, and safety will be covered.

Students using maps to explore the Chesapeake Bay watershed
Students develop a sense of place and an understanding of the diversity and complexity of our local ecosystems through the use of maps.
Elms EE Center 5th Grade Canoe Exploration
Students work together to explore beautiful Sotterley Creek.
5th Grade Canoeing on Sotterley Creek in the rain
Rain or Shine - Check the forecast and come prepared!

Location: This field study is conducted by Elms Environmental Education Center educators at our partner site Historic Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood, MD. Any questions regarding the trip including scheduling and special concerns should be directed to Elms Environmental Education Center .

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.

  • Be sure to check the the weather for Historic Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood, MD. Temperatures near the water can be 10 degrees COLDER (and more windy) than at home or school.

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

  • Our field studies are rain or shine! Bring your rain gear when rain is in the forecast.

  • Hats are recommended.

  • 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.

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

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

Bus pickup at school - 9:15am (8:45am for early schools: GWCES, GKES, non-public schools)

Arrival at field study site. Welcome & Introduction

Safety & Paddling

Exploration by canoe

Cleanup & Lunch

Review data collected and Wrap-up

Bus departure from site - 2:00 pm (1:30 pm for early schools)

Chaperones: Chaperones are vital to the success of our field studies, we appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to assist. Approved volunteers are selected by the classroom teacher. Chaperones should be prepared to participate as needed and accompany students on water in canoes, but take a support role only, encouraging and allowing students to learn and experience for themselves.

Remember to pack your lunch and dress for a day outdoors. *Please set your phones to vibrate/silent during the field study and remember that anything that goes into a canoe will most likely get wet.*


  • $13

Preparing to be a Chaperone (PDF)

Tips for Chaperones (PDF)

Newly hatched terrapin
Great blue heron
Groudhog on banks of the creek
Newly hatched snapping turtle