July 18, 2018
School & Youth
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  • Heather Richardson (left) and Candice Hilliard passed around oyster shells to Mt. Carmel Child Development Center students during the Little Skipjack presentation.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Heather Richardson (left) and Candice Hilliard passed around oyster shells to Mt. Carmel Child Development Center students during the Little Skipjack presentation.

Mt. Carmel Students Experience Little Skipjack Program

Maya Pottiger
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March 20, 2018

Students at the Mt. Carmel Child Development Center recently attended a lesson from ClearShark H2O and Annapolis Maritime Museum’s joint Little Skipjack program.

The lesson about the oyster reef ecosystem was geared toward 4- and 5-year-old students.

“Hopefully they learn a little bit about the different animals and their body parts and what makes them each unique,” said Candice Hilliard, the community program manager at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

Heather Richardson, the education program manager at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, said it’s important to show the students how the ecosystem and animals are interrelated.

“We talk about how they are a home for all of these animals, so the oyster reef habitat is important,” Richardson said. “If we didn’t have oysters or we didn’t have as many oysters, then all of these animals wouldn’t have a place to live.”

Hilliard and Richardson brought oysters, mud crabs, mummichog fish, goby fish and grass shrimp for the students to interact with.

“We use their senses,” Hilliard said about how they tailor information to younger children. “We explore the oyster shells, so we touch them, we smell them, we listen to see if we can hear the ocean. A lot of sensory activities.”

Amy Davidson, a preschool teacher and assistant director at Mt. Carmel Child Development Center, said she was excited for the students to learn about new animals.

“It’s their natural environment,” Davidson said. “They’re getting to see things that are actually right out their backyards and in the local parks they go to.”

Students had the opportunity to touch the different animals, which were passed around in tanks, and even hold a mud crab. They also read a book called “How the Oysters Saved the Bay” to help them understand how oysters filter water.

The goal of the Little Skipjack program is early learning and exposure, Hilliard said. Even if students don’t retain the information they learned during the program, they might take a future interest in the ecosystem and the ways to protect it.

The program ended with students learning a song about oysters to the tune of “My Little Teapot.”

“I like to eat algae all day long. Cleaning the bay keeps me strong,” they sang.


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