Essex Elementary School Fifth-Graders Explore Local Watershed through Mass Audubon Program


A cohort of fifth graders from Essex Elementary School recently participated in Mass Audubon’s "Rivers to Sea" program, where they learned about important concepts and challenges in the local watershed.  The program was underwritten by a grant.

EES’ fifth-grade Teaching Team was awarded a grant from Mass Audubon for students to participate in the Rivers to Sea program, in which students work with Mass Audubon educators over the course of a year to strengthen their skills and confidence in integrating watershed topics into their curriculum, both in the outdoors and in their classrooms. 

During the program, experienced educators from the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary coached EES students and teachers in nine lessons.

In one lesson, student scientists looked at a topographical map of Essex. The goal was to identify how precipitation would flow from different parts of the town into streams, marshes, rivers and the ocean.

For two weeks, students used a model of a generic town in a series of hands-on experiments to investigate the role of people in polluting our environment and to better understand how to mitigate those effects. 

In their final lesson, the fifth-graders visited Conomo Point salt marsh, where they conducted three tests to gather data about the watershed. At the first station, students identified and measured plant growth, and at the second station, they measured the volume of fish caught in the marsh's channels over 24 hours. At the third station, they measured the salinity of the water at different depths by drilling down into the peat. 

After this promising program launch in 2024, EES looks forward to partnering with Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in the upcoming school year to coach a new class of fifth-grade students on the importance of watershed topics. EES is proud to help deepen the community’s understanding of watershed issues essential to Cape Ann’s community health, environmental health, and coastal maritime industries.

Click here to learn more about the Rivers to Sea program.