Ross School’s second grade students are exploring aquatic ecosystems to better understand how living and nonliving entities work together to support their living environments. According to second grade teacher Julie Browning, the students have learned about food chains and webs, and they’ve developed an understanding of living things’ responsibilities within an ecosystem as well activities that may hinder the development of a species in an imbalanced ecosystem.
Their classroom discussions have been supported by experiential research and field trips to locations like South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (SOFO) and Noyac’s Circle Beach. At Circle Beach, the students went seine fishing in Peconic Bay, examined sand animals on the beach, and waded through the salt marsh. They learned to identify a number of marine plants and animals, and they discussed how the organisms interact to create a functioning ecosystem.
At SOFO, students toured the museum’s galleries, which include active habitats and scientifically accurate replications; colorful floor-to-ceiling photos of forests, ponds, and ocean landscapes; and a marine touch tank where they were able to hold sea stars, crabs, urchins, and whelks. They also studied the museum’s terrariums and aquariums, which featured local wildlife.
In the Spiral Curriculum, second grade students learn to recognize their role in an interconnected world. In studying aquatic ecosystems, the students also learn how easily the balance of delicate ecosystems can be upset. This unit fittingly coincided with the observation of the United Nations–sponsored World Environment Day on June 5. In celebration, first and second grade students participated in a beach cleanup at Sag Harbor’s Sagg Main Beach, during which they removed more than 80 pounds of refuse.
The second graders will complete their exploration of aquatic ecosystems with a visit to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead next week.