Fifth grade explores aquatic world of the Anacostia River


Their future is so bright, they have to wear shades even on a soggy, gray field trip!

Belvedere’s fifth graders got a chance to do some hands-on exploring and experimenting this week at the Anacostia River. The field trip, hosted by Living Classrooms, capped off the grade’s oceans unit and study of aquatic ecosystems. On the field trip, they dissected clams, competed to see who could build the strongest and most buoyant cargo boat (with only foil, tape and two drinking straws!), attempted to clean up oil spills, and tested the river’s water quality. They also played games for practicing camouflaging yourself and working as a team that can only communicate in animal sounds.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 1.53.28 PM
Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 1.53.55 PMThe trip was funded with grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Living Classrooms Foundation. This is the second year that these two organizations have made this exciting, hands-on trip possible for Belvedere’s fifth grade. Half of the trip was supposed to have been on a Livings Classrooms ship, but the vessel unexpectedly needed some repairs. Thank you to Living Classrooms for putting together an excellent, land-based field trip and to CBT for approving of the revision. Our photos below show how much the students loved this field trip!


Dissecting a clam to find its foot, stomach (it had dirt for dinner!), liver and other organs.


Also in the dissections, students could determine whether the clam was male or female by identifying colors and eggs.


Students were told they could use napkins, wisks, cotton balls, straws and eye droppers to clean up the oil dropped into their foil ocean. These students figured out that cotton would hold onto most of the oil after they squeezed out the water. Two days after the field trip, students from different classes were overheard swapping stories in the Belvedere hallway and BNN studio about how they cleaned up their respective “spills.”


Can a canoe win the best boat contest? Sadly, it couldn’t compete with the more barge-like designs. But it was a beautiful boat!


This boat held 32 rocks, sinking with the 33rd. It was one of the strongest boats designed on the trip.


The crew directs the cargomaster, telling her exactly where on the ship to put the rock.


Students tested for nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen and pH on the river’s floating dock.

Secchi disk to measure turbidity

Students use a secchi disk to test the water for turbidity, or cloudiness.

Ms. Dillane’s class wins the award for Most Courageous Field Trippers. They were out on a rainy day and, even though they were under cover most of the day, they came home with soggy feet.







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