Why the rocky shore? Why learn about the rocky shore? Why teach about the rocky shore? Why dedicate an entire year to creating and distributing a curriculum on the rocky shore? These are questions I have been asked and hope to answer in this succinct article.
Let me first say this: I chose to invest numerous hours after school, during my kids’ practices, after my kids’ bedtimes, on weekends and during holidays for two years to receive the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical. I did this because I felt very strongly that elementary school teachers need more 1) science curriculum, 2) science professional development, and 3) science instruction at the collegiate level. I also did this because I felt very strongly that elementary school students need improved science instruction and curriculum.
One way I felt I could assist elementary science educators in New Hampshire and beyond was by creating a quality curriculum at an excellent price (free). I initially chose the rocky shore because I am knowledgeable about the rocky shore, I love to teach about the rocky shore, and my students have always loved learning about the rocky shore. And one more thing: almost every grade in elementary school learns about ecosystems.
To be honest, there are a plethora (wanted to fit that word in somewhere) of reasons why I chose the rocky shore, and even more reasons as to why the rocky shore should be taught to all New Hampshire schoolchildren. But for sake of time, I have compartmentalized all of these reasons into three large categories:
Significance– the rocky shore is an extremely important ecosystem. The rocky shore is rich with animal life and plant life that impacts mankind in major ways. Since this is supposed to be a succinct article I’ll be brief: we eat lots of mollusks, crustaceans and fish. We also consume a lot of seaweed (i.e. ice cream), and use it in many ways, too (i.e. lotion). Oh, and are you concerned about the rainforest? Just remember that phytoplankton produces at least 50% of our oxygen!
Relevance– the rocky shore is an ecosystem in New Hampshire. It is a part of our state, which means we are responsible for it. The rocky shore is where the land meets the sea, which means it is where the people meet the sea. It is an ecosystem that is highly susceptible to human contact, and since it is so important to us (above) we should definitely be treating it right. And out-of-sight may mean out-of-mind, but it certainly doesn’t mean out-of-contact when it comes to the watershed. Know of a river near you, New Hampshirite? Yep, that eventually drains into the rocky shore!
Abundance– the rocky shore is an educational paradise. Here is an incomplete list of a vast quantity of valuable learning topics the rocky shore ecosystem holds: interdependence, competition, adaptation, community, conservation, short term & long term changes, invasive species, photosynthesis, predator-prey relationships and more. On top of that, the rocky shore is an engaging environment that is accessible to many, so many students not only have the opportunity to learn facts, but to observe facts as well. And if not, programs like the UNH Marine Docent Program can help.
That is why I chose the rocky shore in a nutshell (seashell).