Protection, Involvement, Education, Restoration: P.I.E.R. Trips
In 2003, SBEP launched P.I.E.R., an innovative education program aimed at educating and inspiring area students. The P.I.E.R. Program is offered to public, private, and home schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Nearly 38,000 students have participated since 2003.
With P.I.E.R., the SBEP aims to educate students about coastal ecology and increase environmental literacy and stewardship in young people. Studies show that environmental education increases positive environmental behaviors and civic engagement - the two hallmarks of Bay stewards.
P.I.E.R. field trips are conducted by certified naturalist educators with Around the Bend Nature Tours.
Field Trips with P.I.E.R.
Suitable for Grades 4 and up.
Standards: SC.4.L.17.1, SC.4.N.1.1, SC.4.N.1.6, SC.5.L.15.1, SC.5.L.17.1, SC6.N.1.2 , SC.6.N.1.4, SC.7.N.1.6, SC.8.N.1.6, SC.6.L.15.1, SC.7.L.17.1, SC.7.L.17.2, SC.7.L.17.3, SC.912, L.17.2, SC.912, L.17.3. SC.912, L.17.6. SC.912, L.17.7. SC.912, L.17.9 SC.912, L.17.19, SC.912, L.17.20, LACC.68.RST.1.3, LACC.910.RST.1.3, LACC.1112.RST.1.3
During a dip-netting field trip, students will explore a local estuarine environment by wading into the grass flats at low tide. They will discover that an estuary is a special place that is found where freshwater mixes with saltwater. They will also learn about watersheds and identify and classify the animals that live in the estuary using a simple dichotomous key. The adjoining mangrove forest will be investigated to identify plants and animals there. With these activities, students will discover how humans interact with and are dependent on the natural world. Not only will students increase their knowledge, they will also develop a better appreciation of the natural world and will in turn be more inclined to protect it.
Students can participate in 3 activities based on teacher needs and age level. Options include:
- Dip Net Estuary Study
- Dichomous Key Identifcation
- Water Wonders Water Cycle Game
- Nature Walk or Mangrove Forest Walk
Suitable for grades 3 and up with modifications for more advanced classes.
Students will be divided into groups and will perform environmental sampling at 3 stations. At each sample station, about 10 minutes will be spent making the observations while another 25 minutes will be available for 3 of the following activities:
- Field: Osprey Game, Alligator Game or Scrub Jay Game - students role play to discover how this wildlife survives
- Forest or Scrub: Nature Walk – learn about the native and exotic plants and animals that live in these habitats
- Coast: Shoreline Exploration – walk along the low tide line and learn about the watershed
- Hammock: Water Wonders - students become water droplets and journey through the water cycle
Middle or high School classes can substitute water quality monitoring for any of the above activities.
Suitable for grades K-2.
Standards: LACC.K.RL.1.1, LACC.1.RI.1.2, LACC.2.RL.1.2, SC.K.L.14.3, SC.K.N.1.1, SC.K.N.1.2, SC.K.N.1.5, SC.1.L.14.1, SC.2.L.17.1, SC.2.N.1.3, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.1.L.14.2
In this inquiry-based activity, students listen to a story about “Why the Crab Has No Head”. Students make observations with live crabs and participate in three related activities:
- Crab Inquiry with storytelling
- Shoreline Exploration
- Nature Walk or Mangrove Forest Walk
Students will understand that crabs are wildlife and wildlife comes in a variety of forms – small to large. Students will understand that this place is home to wildlife, including crabs. Students will learn about crab anatomy and animal adaptations. Students will learn what an estuary is, understand the importance of an estuary, and observe the unique plants and animals found in and around an estuary as they walk through the trails and shorelines of the site.
This trip is only available during the warmer months of September, October, early November, late March, April, or May, as crabs hide in the mud during cooler months.
Suitable for grades 6 and up.
Visit local natural and developed areas to learn about stormwater management and low-impact development in an urban setting.
- Sarasota County – North Water Tower Park: Classes will tour the site, learn about and perform invasive exotic plant removal, and participate in water quality monitoring. Includes a specialist visit to your classroom.
- Manatee County – 5th Street in Palmetto: Classes will tour the award-winning low-impact development demonstration site and view firsthand the concepts in practice, including pervious concrete, tree box filters, bioswales (rain gardens) and permeable pavers. After the tour, the bus proceeds to Emerson Point to allow students to practice water quality monitoring and view the natural systems that are being modeled in the urban landscape of 5th Street.
Field Trip Activities
- Water Quality Testing – using LaMotte Kits, students will measure water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, nitrate, and salinity.
- Nature Walk – identify and classify native and exotic plants
- Spud-busting - service learning exotic plant removal
- Shore Explore – Shoreline walk to discover estuary, watershed, and mangrove concepts