• Lower School
Adaptation: Not Just for Non-Human Animals

This is a guest post by Anna Painter, Lower School STEAM teacher extraordinaire.

The past year has taught me to pine for, and savor, the “normal.” In a “normal” year, students in Lower School (K–5) would have spent their time exploring salt marshes or rocky shores, or traipsing onto a boat, headed off onto the sunny waters of Narragansett Bay with our Save the Bay partnership. So, our fifth graders would have rounded off their Lower School Save the Bay experience, starting with a beautiful September day spent mucking about in the peat of the salt marshes of Prudence Island, learning about the importance of this habitat in Rhode Island, before helping Save the Bay’s Restoration Team replant salt marsh grasses in a struggling salt marsh in Charlestown on a sunny May day.     

This year was anything but normal. The realities of COVID this year meant no field trips and no visitors to campus. But, like we all have learned to do, we were able to pivot and adapt to what was possible. Since we couldn’t bring our students to the Bay, we brought the Bay to our students through “virtual field trips.” Our amazing Save the Bay educators, Captains Jen Kelly and Eric Pfirrmann, Zoomed into our classrooms from those salt marshes and rocky shores. Students in kindergarten through Grade 5 were able experience the Bay, even if they weren’t able to visit in person. We kept our curricular “themes” for each grade level, covering similar content, just in a new way. 

While Grade 5 did not get to see a salt marsh in person, they explored one on Zoom. They learned about the animals and plants that make this habitat their home, and the adaptations they have that allow them to live here. They learned the numerous ways that salt marshes help the environment, from acting as a sponge to prevent coastal flooding, to providing a “nursery” for hundreds of different baby Bay animals. They learned about various birds that you can find in the salt marshes of Rhode Island, even practicing identifying them by their calls. So even if they never got to step foot in a salt marsh this year,  they will still leave Lower School having experienced what a salt marsh is like and will know the importance of this productive habitat in Narragansett Bay. 

Although there was no “normal” this year, one thing remained clear and true: Lincoln School loves Narragansett Bay. Even in this year of COVID, we continued to foster that stewardship of this amazing Rhode Island resource. This is our Bay, one that we are working to protect for generations to come. And while we keep our fingers crossed that we will be able to love it in person next year, we are happy that this year we could still love it over Zoom.