Ocean Views Project: Canoes

The California Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program is an environmental education program funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that supports locally relevant experiential learning in the K-12 environment.

I had six wonderful  days of canoeing with the students from Kennedy Middle and Pescadero Middle in the Ocean Views Project. We started the trip by recapping what we had learned in a previous class called, “What is a watershed”.

A watershed is the area of land that “sheds” or drains water into a given river, river system, or larger body of water, like the SF Bay. It is the area of land from which water and pollution drain through a series of channels into a common outlet. Check out this video of Pescadero Middle students explaining what they think is a watershed.
The students viewed maps and located the area in which we were going to paddle. The students learned the different parts of the canoes, how to take them off the racks, and how to paddle. Once we were had finished practicing paddling, the journey into Redwood sloughs began.

One by one the canoes left the shore to begin practicing in a designated area  until we ventured forward. Once everyone had enough time practicing we crossed to Bair Island to conduct the activity. “A Sense a Place”. The students closed their eyes and listened to what is around them. The students heard some natural sounds like water, birds, bubbling in the mud, as well as man-made sounds like cars, canoes, talking, and factories.

We continued on through the slough where we saw many types of wildlife. One day we were able to see Cormorants, Seals, Egrets, Herons, and Gulls.  Once we found the perfect place we grouped up together and began our Hydrology station. Hydrology is the study of water. We took water samples and tested salinity, temperature, phosphates, dissolved oxygen, and pH.

After all of the scientific tests we ate lunch right in the canoes. After lunch we all headed back to shore. Some days it was a little more difficult because the winds picked up. For example, we had students undock  in another area because they were unable to paddle. Other days we had multiple canoes attached to each other to “raft” together back to the shore. On the final day of canoes the students with me were so excited once we got back to land that they accidentally started to stand up and let’s just say I had a nice dip in the water.

Once the canoes and supplies were all cleaned up the students had discussions about how they felt the sloughs were a part of the watershed they documented their answers in their journals. Check out this video of the students experience on the canoes

I had a blast getting to know each of these students out on the water. The next step for the Ocean Views project will be with the Watershed Discovery Foundation where the students will test water in their local streams.

Keep checking out our blog for updates on the Ocean Views project and other fun activities MSI has to offer.


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