5th grade says: Take me to the river

petting the fish

We want to give a HUGE thank-you to Living Classrooms and the Chesapeake Bay Trust for making it possible for our entire fifth grade to take a field trip on the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.

CBTRUST logoBelvedere received extremely generous grants from both organizations to fully fund the Living Classrooms’ shipboard education program as well as charter buses that allowed our students to be on the water for almost all of the school day. The field trip is part of the fifth-graders’ study of the ocean and the aquatic habitats leading to it.

During the trip, the students:

  • Caught fish in an otter trawl (large net) and then were able to touch the fish.
  • Captured plankton in a water bottle, then studied it under a microscope.

plankton in a bottle micro plankton


  • Dissected clams
  • Tested water quality

staring down the clam  






test water quality 2test water quality

  • Built boats and tested them for buoyancy and strength — using only one piece of aluminum foil, two straws and a piece of tape. (The strongest held 18 ounces of weights before sinking at 20 ounces.)
  • Created “wetlands” and competed to see who could filter the cleanest water — using only a coffee filter, three cotton balls and a funnel.
  • Steered the boat
  • Marked biodegradable, degradable and compostable marine debris (sea trash) on a decomposition timeline. Everyone was sufficiently grossed out by how long it takes disposable diapers to break down (600+ years).

marine debris timelinesteering the boat

wetland filterfiltered water











Later in the ocean unit, the fifth grade will clean up a stream near Belvedere and monitor its water and aquatic organisms to develop a better understanding of what we’re sending downstream and how we can positively or negatively affect the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean.


Wahl boat coming in




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