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The Secrets of the Medallion: 6th grade
Preparation
In a large shipping crate constructed of rough-cut wood, the preparation materials for this field trip are delivered to the classroom. On the crate in large stenciled letters appear these words: "South Slough Estuary Expedition." The crate contains the story of a medallion found in the mudflats of South Slough. Part of the story is known, but the secret of the medallion is missing. The students are challenged to embark on an expedition to the South Slough to learn how the estuary works, and thus discover the medallion’s secret. But, much work must be done to get ready including: preparation of an "Estuary Book of Conclusions" for the trip, learn key words and definitions in a fun game format, and a quick review of other topics.

On-Site
The "Estuary Book of Conclusions" forms the basis for their field experience. Enclosed within are a series of conclusions concerning the ecology of estuaries – some are right and some are wrong. Through a series of activities which involve a combination of experimentation, data collecting, problem solving situations, and use of observation skills, the students figure out the wrong from right conclusions on their own. It’s not as easy as it might seem: nutrients must be measured, mudflats are sampled for life, the "Mystery of the Dead Plants" must be solved, and the expeditioneers must determine who eats who in the estuary food chain. Working in small groups (accompanied by a group leader) the students learn the "truths" under which all estuaries operate. When the knowledge of all the truths has been gained, they can then find the Secret of the Medallion.
 
The program takes 4 – 4.5 hours to complete, with a half hour for lunch.

Follow-up
The follow-up segment of this program features an Expedition Report where students present their findings to parents, build a model estuary, learn about other kinds of estuaries, explore mini-research topics, and other activities.

For more information...
Please consult our Teacher’s Guide: Information and How to Schedule a Field Trip for important information regarding your upcoming visit to South Slough.