Critical Habitats and Threatened Species Stewardship Project

BY Renee Fudala

Sandwich STEM Academy

Project Description

The goal of the “Critical Habitats and Threatened Species Stewardship Project” is for all Grade 7 students at the Sandwich STEM Academy, to explore critical and unique coastal ecosystems on Cape Cod.  These coastal habitats on Cape Cod include the tidal flats, estuary, salt marsh and beach ecosystems. Our students will have field trip to Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, and will explore ecological concepts of food web and energy transfer, tidal activity, adaptations of plants and animals, biodiversity, and human interrelationships with these critical Cape Cod habitats. Students will learn about threatened species and how headstarting can benefit the species’ survivability. Students will also learn how to care for, and protect an threatened species on Cape Cod, the spadefoot toad, by headstarting the spadefoot toad tadpoles in the classroom.  Our objectives include learning about the unique and diverse coastal ecosystems of Cape
Cod, the threatened spadefoot toad and it’s amazing habitat and life cycle.  Our activities will include a naturalist guided field trip to the tidal flats, estuary, salt marsh, and beach ecosystems at Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as the process of headstarting spadefoot toads, from tadpole to adult, in our classroom.  Through discussion and games, and close-up discovery with magnification and binoculars, students will discover the anatomy of these unique creatures, their amazing life cycles, behavior, adaptations, and their role they play in the community.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)?

The “Critical Habitats and Threatened Species Stewardship Project” will be evaluated by a Google survey that every 7th Grade student takes in science class.  The survey will ask pertinent questions, and evaluate both the field trip experience at Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as the spadefoot toad headstarting project.  Results will be shared with students and colleagues.

Benefit to the students and the school

The benefits of supporting the “Critical Habitats and Threatened Species Stewardship Project” include learning through discovery, exploration, and hands-on activities, the Grade 7 Next Generation Science Standards.  Our science standards include a focus on ecosystems, biodiversity, energy transfer, growth of organisms, and the size of populations in an ecosystem, and relationships between organisms in an ecosystem. A great benefit for our students is to learn experientially, through exploration on a field trip, as well as having a stewardship project in the classroom.  Students will learn how to weigh and determine the Gosnold stage of development for the threatened spadefoot toads.   In this way, students are benefited, as they are engaged in the science content, eager and curious to learn more, and to appreciate the critical, special, and unique habitats found on Cape Cod.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

Our Grade 7 field trip to the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary’s Long Pasture Sanctuary will take place in June, 2019. The spadefoot toad headstarting process will be approximately from May 15- June 15, as students will experience the amazing transformation of spadefoot toad tadpoles metamorphosizing into adult toads.