May 5 2019

Burlington Students Learn Ecology and Help Fight Beach Erosion on Plum Island



Burlington elementary school students got a chance to get some hands on experience, make a difference helping protect the environment and learn some lessons in natural conservation.


“As a part of all BPS second graders new ‘Earth’s Changing Surface’ units, students have been exploring how wind and water change our Earth’s surface and investigating engineered solutions,” a blog post from the Burlington Public School’s Science Center says. “Solutions such as beach grass and seawalls are commonly found along the U.S. coastline and play a particularly important role for the residents of Plum Island in Newburyport.”


To help the students learn from hand-on experience and to support Plum Island’s population of people and wildlife, second graders from all four elementary schools participated in a field trip to Plum Island to learn more about the beach ecosystem and lend a helping hand to the fight against beach erosion by planting dune grass in sections of barren dunes on the north side of the island, the blog says. The planting location was selected in coordination with the Joppa Flats Mass Audubon team, directed by Lisa Hutchings and resident volunteers of Plum Island and many surrounding communities.


While half of a school’s second graders attended the field trip, the other half remaining at home participated in a full day of science investigations, including searching for the source of the Merrimack River using Google Earth, an erosion scavenger hunt of the school grounds, and the use of the Science Center’s state of the art Landform Model Sandbox, a tool using a digital projector to create an “augmented reality” experience demonstrating landforms, watersheds, and flooding.


“The Science Center and Mass Audubon were both thrilled with the results as were the residents of Plum Island,” the blog says. “Our students were even featured in a news article from the Newburyport News! The Science Center looks forward to continuing this collaboration with Mass Audubon in the years to come.”


Photo: Students plant dune grass in sections of barren dunes on Plum Island. (Courtesy BPS Science Center).


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