Wild caught oysters at MeTompkin Seafood in Crisfield.

Calvert Schools awarded grant from Chesapeake Bay Trust

News Release, Calvert County Public Schools

Calvert County Public Schools has received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust in the amount of $79,286 for the development and implementation of the Schoolhouse Rocks program, a systemic instructional approach that will enhance the existing fifth-grade oyster research unit.

Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, “Our fifth graders currently study the importance of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. This grant will enable us to strengthen the action component of the program.”

The fifth-grade science curriculum has been developed to connect Next Generation Science Standards and Maryland Environment Literacy Standards to classroom and field-based instruction. The new project will strengthen this program as a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience through richer classroom integration and will connect the activity to multiple science units throughout the year.

With the grant funding, students will work with local conservation organizations to build reef balls and other structures to create habitat for oyster restoration projects in southern Maryland. A STEM component of the project will allow students to assemble reef ball molds and engineer concrete mixtures to create the most effective substrate for setting spat to the completed reef ball structures. Some of these structures will be placed on existing reefs. Others will be placed in tanks at the Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory (PEARL) lab at Morgan State University and set with larvae produced at that location. 

Students will have the opportunity to communicate with project scientists at PEARL via Skype and learn about the process of setting larvae onto their reef balls. Once the reef balls and spat are ready for placement, they will be transported to permitted reef sites at various locations in southern Maryland. In subsequent years, students will monitor the biological growth on each reef site and continue to build reef balls to provide an expansion of habitat and ecological benefit at the sites. The long-term nature of the project will allow for an analysis of previous methods used to construct reef habitat, as well as a more thorough analysis of the benefits that oysters provide to the local ecosystem. 

This project will be implemented with support from community partners, including the PEARL Lab, Coastal Conservation Association, Friends of St. Clement’s Bay, St. Mary’s River Watershed Association, Calvert County Natural Resources Division, and the Chesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society.

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