Programs for Schools at Joppa Flats

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School Program Catalog

At Joppa Flats Education Center, our programs introduce students to the many plant and animal communities and include activities such as using field equipment, gathering data, and making observations. Each program will be geared to the age level and curriculum needs of the group. The Massachusetts Department of Education frameworks for science, history, and geography have guided our program development. We use live animal presentations, inquiry-based learning, outdoor activities, and science stations to give our groups a rich and rewarding educational experience. Come to us or we can travel to your site for a classroom, library, or afterschool program.

At the Joppa Flats Education Center | Exploring Plum Island (EPI) Field Trips | Ecology Boat Programs | At Your School | Preschool Programs | Teacher Workshops

At the Joppa Flats Education Center

School children at Joppa Flats Education Center

We host a wide range of classroom programs with seasonal and ecology-based themes for students of all ages. With onsite salt water aquaria, winter bird banding demonstrations, a butterfly garden overlooking the Merrimack River estuary, and a children’s classroom, we can offer schools and groups many ways to explore the wonders of our natural world.

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Exploring Plum Island (EPI) Field Trips

Naturalist with students at Joppa Flats Education Center

During Exploring Plum Island Field Trips, students in grades 1-12 make inquiries, investigate, classify, think critically, and draw conclusions throughout habitats on the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and Sandy Point State Reservation on Plum Island. This field trip series offers five modules that introduce students to the many unique plant and animal communities and include activities such as using equipment, gathering data, and making observations. Each program is geared to the grade level and curriculum needs of the students. Field trips are available September through November and April through June.

Coastal Education Boat Programs

Eco Cruise at Joppa Flats Eduction Center

Late spring and early fall are perfect times to bring your class out on the water for an ecology cruise on the Merrimack River! Choose a two-hour Beach Creature Cruise for grades PreK-3, or an Oceanography Afloat cruise for grades 4 – 8. Ecology cruises can be customized to meet your curriculum objectives for up to 38 passengers. Available June 1 through early October, groups can enjoy an ecology cruise upriver, through the Great Marsh, or into the Atlantic Ocean based on the tides.

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At Your School

Students sorting shells during a Joppa Flats Education Center program

Teacher naturalists from Joppa Flats are available to come to your school to provide your classroom with a broader understanding of the natural world while reinforcing the key concepts of Massachusetts curriculum frameworks. Programs can include live animals, dramatic role play, science lab stations, group challenges, and creative use of multimedia. Observation skills, sensory awareness, and seasonal trends in nature are emphasized. Many of our programs include an outdoor component (weather permitting) and can be presented in a classroom, schoolyard, or library, or as an afterschool program. Available September through June.

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Preschool Programs

Preschool students learning about marine invertebrates

Joppa Flats offers two types of programs for active preschoolers (ages 3-6) and their parents.

  • The onsite 90-minute Imagine, Sing, and Learn programs offer a structured series of activities including original songs, movement, dramatic play, hands-on science, and a thematic snack indoors at our Education Center.
  • See Think Wonder Walks are outdoor 90-minute mini-excursions that focus on the importance of a sense of place and exploring the ecology, sights, and sounds of local woods, beaches, and ponds. Wildlife, local and migrating birds, collecting techniques, and environmental awareness will be presented in a fun, energetic format that adults and children alike will enjoy.

Coloring pages, song lyrics, vocabulary, fun fact sheets, and a suggested reading list will be sent by email following each class.  

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Teacher Workshops

Teachers doing an education workshop on the beach with Joppa Flats

The Joppa Flats Education Center provides professional development opportunities focused on seasonal schoolyard science for teachers, science curriculum specialists, and administrators with a focus on Preschool through Grade 5. All workshops are designed for active participation in the field and practical application in the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks. Participants can attend workshops onsite on a variety of topics or our staff can design a workshop or series to take place at your school. We are a DOE-approved PDP provider.