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It was a banner year for N.E.S.T.’s sea turtle curriculum project in Dare County elementary schools!! Two schools, Kitty Hawk Elementary School (KHES) and Nags Head Elementary School (NHES), are now implementing sea turtle units in their core curriculum. Four schools took N.E.S.T. sponsored field trips to the Aquarium on Roanoke Island and its the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center to see sea turtles up close. Each school sending students was required to teach sea turtle units to the participating grade so students would get the full benefit of observing turtles in the hospital and also understand their need for support and protection.

As part of their studies, fifth graders from NHES recreate sea turtle nests in the sand … ping pong balls magically become turtle eggs.

KHES was in its second year of sea turtle curriculum implementation. They continue to be excited about the work. The library’s sea turtle section is often the center of activity and students of all grades actively use books provided by N.E.S.T. Fourth grade students came to the STAR Center fully prepared with study sheets to complete and oodles of questions. They fully understand the threats to sea turtles and their environment and want to be part of the solution.

NHES was the new addition to the core curriculum program this year and jumped in with tremendous enthusiasm and amazing work, including a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Challenge project and the publication of FIVE books, one by each 5th grade class. According to the librarian, these 5th graders researched sea turtles and found information about them from both print and digital formats. They used over 30 non-fiction sea turtle books provided by funds from N.E.S.T.

NHES 5th graders used the information they learned about sea turtles to write books of poems and pledges. Students could write any type of poem, as well as how they pledge to protect our oceans and sea life. They used Scripsi, an online book creator program, which further enhanced their digital literacy. While the students worked on their compositions they also created beautiful illustrations for their books in art class. The students reviewed images of sea turtles and used various mediums to create their unique illustrations. Each student created one page in the book with their own poem, pledge and illustration. The dedication page in each class book is to N.E.S.T. The books are fabulous!!!

NHES 5th grade authors show off their cool books

The STEM Challenge was brilliant!! 5th grade teams of 4-5 students were challenged to create a Sphero chariot that could rescue sea turtles eggs from predators. Students designed and built chariots that could carry at least two “eggs” (ping pong balls) through a maze avoiding predators. Second grade students tested all of the 5th graders’ chariots and awarded the most successful teams.

Motorized chariots carry eggs though a predator obstacle course.

The four school groups that took field trips to the STAR Center came well prepared and were very excited. NHES sent their 1st graders in the late fall. These students had already covered a number of units and were full of questions and enthusiasm and were committed to helping sea turtles. KHES sent their 4th graders…full of knowledge and work sheets to complete as they toured STAR. Manteo Elementary School (MES) sent 2nd graders and Cape Hatteras Elementary School (CHES) sent 3rd grade classes. They were thrilled to be part of the sponsored field trips and came well organized and prepared.

NEST volunteer Louise V gives a turtle talk to students

We now await the news from the Assistant Superintendent of Dare County Schools on the selection of school number three to implement sea turtle units in their core curriculum. N.E.S.T. will continue to support our local schools so area students will learn about the need to protect and support our beautiful sea turtles and their ocean environment. All of these students take this knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment home to their parents, friends and neighbors. As the titles of the NHES 5th grade students books so clearly state:

“Support the Sea Turtles” “Sea Turtles Saviors” “We Protect What We Love”

“All About Sea Turtles” “Save the Sea Turtles”

NHES Art Video