Activity, part of Coast Kids program, will take place at Assateague State Park

(Jan. 11, 2019) Young scientists and environmentalists in the making can visit the Assateague State Park Headquarters from 1:30-3:30 pm. on Saturday, for a one-day class exploring plankton.

plankton

Plankton are a common food source for hundreds of species, including whales.

Children will be able to closely examine plankton, a diverse collection of organisms that live in large bodies of water, which are a crucial source of food to many aquatic organisms, such as fish and whales. 

“By showing our area youth the science behind the unique area we live in, they begin to develop a respect and strong appreciation for our coastal environment,” Billy Weiland, communications manager for Assateague Coastal Trust, said.

The children will catch plankton with specialized nets from the Assateague State Park boat ramp and use microscopes to look at the minuscule animals and plants living in the bay water.

“The microscopes are nothing like what many of us were used to using in school,” Weiland said. “[They] have a digital display and onboard camera that really just makes the whole process fun and educational for the kids.”

The activity is part of the Coast Kids program, which was founded in 2003. Coast Kids members are invited to come to monthly events to explore the wonders of local flora, fauna and geography. During the hands-on events, Coast Kids participate activities from canoeing to identifying frog calls.

Most of the year-round events are outdoors with two or three indoor activities in the winter. The events are on average about two hours long and designed for families with children age 3-13. The program has completed more than 180 monthly events, with 15-20 children attending each activity. 

Coast Kids Director Verena Chase will supervise the activity.

“It a great opportunity to explore new places across Delmarva, do fun outdoor activities with the whole family and learn about our natural resources in a fun, hands-on way,” Chase said.

This will be the first plankton class Coast Kids has conducted.

“Last year, we purchased student microscopes, which are a great tool to study plankton,” Chase said.

The event is free for members of the Assateague Coastal Trust. Nonmembers admission will cost $3. A year-long Coast Kids membership costs $35 for the first child and $20 for each additional sibling, and includes 12 free events, a Coast Kids T-shirt designed by Marc Emond, and a bird call. 

Participants are advised to wear warm clothes, as the plankton collection will take approximately 30 minutes outside. In the event of inclement weather, plankton samples will be provided.

For more information or to register, call the Assateague Coastal Trust office at 410-629-1538 or visit www.actforbays.org/coastkids.

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