Educators: Schedule Your FLOW Field Trip Today!
By Jill Lemon

teachers learn about FLOWSchedule your FLOW Field Trip today!
Photo by Thomas Anderson.
Summer is winding down, and schools are back in session; it’s time now for FLOW Field Trips! The FLOW Program has extended the education options for students to visit Bolsa Chica State Beach and the State Ecological Reserve with the award of a California State Parks Foundation grant. We now offer middle and high school students the opportunity to engage in an extended FLOW program where they visit us twice. After the first visit this fall, they will take what they learned about phytoplankton and water quality as well as their plankton sample back to their classroom. By using variables such as different kinds of nutrients they will conduct Citizen Science experiments growing plankton in the classroom, and maybe even replicate an algal bloom.

This experimentation allows the students to make more Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) connections while asking their own unique questions and conducting their own investigations. Then in the spring they can return to Bolsa Chica State Beach to report their findings, collect more data, or use the microscopes to progress their scientific learning further. We’re excited for middle and high school students to begin making these connections with science and the natural world here in their community.

California State Parks FoundationCalifornia State Parks Foundation
is helping FLOW with a generous
Also, over the summer, we created an NGSS aligned curriculum for elementary students. This is an age group that has not previously had access to the FLOW program. Students will learn about the diversity of life within a drop of water, the adaptations needed by organisms to be so small and yet successful. We designed two levels of curriculum to K-2 and 3-5 grades and utilized NGSS standards for each level as a backbone to the trip. The students will learn that organisms use structures and parts of their bodies to solve problems in their environments (e.g. phytoplankton use spines and other external structures to stay within a certain level of the water column). Students can then express what they have learned with creativity. We have included opportunities for students to problem solve for themselves and design their own plankton (either by drawing or by using crafting materials) and using the info they learned on the trip to influence their designs.

We are anticipating welcoming four of these uniquely engaging field trips this year but have yet to commit Kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers to the program. If you are an elementary school teacher or know of one who is in need of a brand-new educational field trip that involves the ocean and its food web, send an email to Jill Lemon, today and tell her you want to participate!

The generosity of California State Parks Foundation will ensure that the FLOW Program continues to grow and expose more students, and ultimately the community, to the wonders of Bolsa Chica, the wetlands, and the ocean.