Anacostia River Mussel Power: Teaching the Teachers
This week we had the pleasure of hosting educators from Bladensburg High School, Fairmont Heights High School, and Parkdale High School, as well as representatives from the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center - all a part of Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS)! These three schools will be particpating in our Mussel Power Program through another program called Citizen Science 2.0 (a partnership between the Veverka Family Foundaion, the National Park Service, and the National Park Foundation). They joined us this week to learn more about mussel biology and natural history, mussel restoration, and mussel care!
Donald Belle, Outreach Educator at the William S. Schmidt Center, meets an eastern pondmussel for the first time!
Teachers and students at these three high schools will care for mussels in their classrooms and join us for two field experiences - just like other participating schools (read more about the classroom component of the Mussel Power Program here). What makes this experience through Citizen Science 2.0 so special is that these schools will be conducting hands-on, real-world data collection. Teachers and students at these three schools will help us monitor mussel growth and survival over the spring months.
Educators from Bladensburg, Parkdale, and Fairmont Heights High Schools practice counting mussels (left) and measuring mussels (right). They will be competing this work with their students over the next few months!
After monitoring and caring for mussels in their classrooms, teachers and students will return their juvenile mussels to the floating baskets currently at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (KAG). At KAG, they will help us monitor all of the mussels in our restoration work (currently being kept at KAG for the winter). This data will provide a better understanding of how our mussels survived the winter months. It will also provide a great snapshot in time of mussel health and mortality before we return the mussels to their seven locations on the mainstem of the Anacostia River for the spring and summer months.
Students and teachers will also join us on the river for a second field experience at Kingman Island this spring. At Kingman Island, they will continue to help us monitor the mussels kept there, and they will also assist with a survey of wild mussels in Kingman Marsh (we're going to get muddy!).
Scientists from the MD-DNR conduct a survey of wild mussels on the Anacostia.
This is similar to the work that students and educators will help with this spring.
In addition to all of this work, students will be analyzing the data we have collected and designing solutions for improved floating baskets - practicing and refining knowledge and skills in statistics, biology, ecology, environmental science, natural resources management, and engineering.
Stay tuned for more!