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Casco Bay Curriculum

Our Casco Bay Curriculum provides educators with ways to bring the Bay into their classrooms.

Our Curriculum’s activities were designed by Associate Director Mary Cerullo. Mary is an award-winning author of 22 marine science books for young people.

When Mary turned 13 years old, she decided she wanted to become an oceanographer. She studied biology and geology in college and anticipated a long stint in graduate school to earn her PhD. Her career plans were derailed when she took an interim job as an educator with the New England Aquarium in Boston. It was there that she discovered a different path, but a vital one, as a “science translator.”

Listening to conversations between parents and their children made her realize that many visitors did not have a good understanding of the dynamics of the ocean world. The caring was clear, but the facts often were not.

Instead of graduate school of oceanography, Mary shifted her continuing education to learning how to communicate with adults and children.

As our Associate Director, Mary translates the science behind our work to residents, reporters, regulators, parents, teachers, and the many, many people who love Casco Bay. She has never regretted her detour; every day presents a new opportunity to learn, teach, and share with other educators her enthusiasm for Casco Bay.

Our Casco Bay Curriculum showcases the oceanic characters and characteristics of this special place and demonstrates how climate change is already impacting our coastal waters. 

Why we created the Casco Bay Curriculum

We developed the Casco Bay Curriculum: A Changing Estuary to help teachers connect the classroom with our coastal waters and to help students become good stewards of Casco Bay. Friends of Casco Bay’s goals are to reduce pollution and increase stewardship practices through increasing students’ awareness and knowledge about climate change.

We encourage school systems to make use of service learning and community-focused stewardship activities in the Casco Bay watershed, foster a sense of stewardship for the Bay and the environment, and demonstrate how environmental issues facing our communities may be resolved.

Casco Bay Curriculum: A Changing Estuary addresses two major topics:

  • What is an estuary and how has it changed over time?
  • How is climate change impacting us locally in Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine?

The curriculum activities use data on Casco Bay to cite local evidence of climate change, including sea level rise, warming waters, the fractured food web, and the changing chemistry of our oceans. Supporting the 20 stand-alone, hands-on activities are PowerPoint presentations, activity sheets, references to children’s literature, readings from scientific and news media articles about the impacts of climate change on Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine, and links to relevant videos and web pages.

We also want to make our educational materials accessible to families. We have suggestions of things that teachers, students, and families can do to help protect the environmental health of Casco Bay, including everyday solutions around the home, and community service activities, such as storm drain stenciling and cleanups.  

For more information about the Casco Bay Curriculum: A Changing Estuary please contact Mary Cerullo at mcerullo [at] cascobay [dot] org.

Family Projects

Kids Storm Drain Stenciling
Stenciling storm drains is a great community service project. Photo from Friends School of Portland

We want to help parents engage their children in exploring the wonders of Casco Bay. We recognize that parents, too, are educators who would appreciate suggestions for family activities, fun facts about our Bay, and neighborhood service learning projects.

  1. Geography: Where is Casco Bay in the world’s oceans?
  2. Geography: Navigate Casco Bay
  3. Ecology: What makes Casco Bay an estuary?
  4. Stewardship: Organize a storm drain stenciling project
  5. Stewardship: Do a neighborhood cleanup
  6. Stewardship: Design your perfect yard

Kids’ Corner

  1. So you think you know Casco Bay
  2. Become a pollution detective
  3. Did you know…How many lighthouses are in Casco Bay?
  4. What’s in a name?…Other names for Casco Bay

 

Read more about the Casco Bay Curriculum:

What’s in a name?

June 26, 2017

What’s in a name?   Casco Bay has had many names. Where did the name Casco come from? The Abenakis called this place Aucocisco [ah-coh-sis-ko], which may translate as “Place of the Herons.” Some people say it may actually have meant “marshy place” or “place of the slimy mud.” White… Read more

Did you know…How many lighthouses are in Casco Bay?

June 26, 2017

Did you know…How many lighthouses are in Casco Bay? All are in the southwest region of the Bay, which is not surprising, since this where ship traffic is concentrated. Draw them on a chart of Casco Bay. 1. “Bug Light,” South Portland, Portland Breakwater 2. Spring Point Ledge, South Portland,… Read more

Become a pollution detective

June 26, 2017

Become a Pollution Detective! What is polluted runoff? What are sources of pollution in stormwater runoff? (pesticides & fertilizers, pet wastes, litter, oil & road salt, soil & sand, leaky septic systems, motor oil) On the next rainy day, grab your rain gear and boots, and investigate your own neighborhood… Read more

So you think you know Casco Bay

June 26, 2017

So You Think You Know Casco Bay   1. What are the landward and seaward boundaries of Casco Bay?   _________________ _______________________ 2. How many coastal or island communities border Casco Bay? ____________________   3. What is an estuary and why is it important?   ______________________________________________________________   ______________________________________________________________   4.… Read more

Stewardship: Design your perfect yard

June 26, 2017

BayScaping: Design Your Perfect Yard Background Our idea of the “perfect yard” grew from our ancestors’ appreciation of the manicured lawns of English estates. Large expanses of grass require heavy investments of fertilizers, pesticides, water, and labor. After Edwin Beard Budding invented the lawnmower in 1830, Americans became obsessed with… Read more

Ecology: What makes Casco Bay an estuary?

June 26, 2017

Estuaries are defined as “where the river meets the sea” Estuaries form where river meets the sea and fresh water mixes with salt. Teeming with life, these places of salt marshes, eelgrass beds, mudflats, and tidal waters serve as nursery areas for oceangoing fish, migratory stopovers for shorebirds, and homes… Read more