Log In

The premier one-stop website for live, interactive learning experiences. Live, interactive learning experiences.


Chesapeake Bay: An Estuary in Crisis

from The Mariners' Museum

Program image

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. Its watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles, is home to 17,000,000 people, and includes all or portions of six states. The Bay is also home to approximately 3,600 plants and animals and serves as an economic and recreation resource for humans. But the Bay is suffering.

During this program, students will examine the resources of the Chesapeake Bay, from the years before early European settlement to today. By exploring the changes in the Bay over time, students will discover the factors that have contributed to its decline. The program concludes with a discussion of the changes students can make in their daily lives to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, or any other watershed in which they may live.

Participating classes will receive the supplies necessary to perform their own environmental cleanup, and will have the opportunity to post their images and clean-up statistics to a special website

Development of this program was provided by the CHESAPEAKE BAY GATEWAYS NETWORK
Linking individuals with ways they can enjoy and protect the Chesapeake Bay

Program Rating

   based on 5 evaluation(s).

Book it!

About This Program


Point to Point: $125.00
Point to Point Premium: $125.00
By Request: $125.00
By Request Premium: $125.00


45 minutes to one hour

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9Public Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:

no minimum

Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Community Interests, Social Studies/History, Sciences

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Skype, iChat, FieldTripZoom, Vidyo, Movi/Jabber, Blue Jeans, etc...)

Booking Information

Book it!

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

We will not charge for programs cancelled due to nature i.e. snow. The full fee will be charged to schools canceling with less than a 24 hour notice.

About This Provider

Content Provider logo


The Mariners' Museum

Newport News, VA
United States

The Mariners’ Museum is located in Newport News, Virginia, but our educational reach extends far beyond our physical doors. Just as Man has used the sea to journey around the world for thousands of years, The Mariners’ now uses Interactive Videoconferencing to offer programming to schools across the country and around the globe.
The Mariners' Museum, one of the largest and most comprehensive maritime history museums in the world, houses a treasure trove of more than 35,000 items inspired by human experiences with the sea.

Harriet Smith

Program Details


1. Students will learn about the characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay, its size and location on the map.
2. We will then discuss watersheds and estuaries.
3. Students will learn about the condition of the Chesapeake Bay in the 17th century through a video of an early explorer
4. Students will learn about changes over time, culminating in a video interview with a waterman (person who works on the Chesapeake Bay)
5. We will then examine the current state of the Bay and the factors involved in the Bay's declining health
6. Students will have the opportunity as a class to figure out their nitrogen footprint.
7. At the conclusion of the program, students will be encouraged to organize their own cleanup.


Participants will:
- compare the changing conditions of the Chesapeake Bay over time
- explore the factors contributing to the deteriorating health of the Chesapeake Bay
- discover what small changes they can make in their daily lives to help restore the Bay.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Grades K-4
• All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
• An organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move to new locations.
• All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.
• Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.
Grades 5-8
• A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time. All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.
• Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in an ecosystem. Plants and some micro-organisms are producers--they make their own food. All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms. Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.
• For ecosystems, the major source of energy is sunlight. Energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis. That energy then passes from organism to organism in food webs.
• The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition. Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates.
• Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival.
Earth and Space Science(CONTENT STANDARD D):
• Water is a solvent. As it passes through the water cycle it dissolves minerals and gases and carries them to the oceans.

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives(CONTENT STANDARD F):
• When an area becomes overpopulated, the environment will become degraded due to the increased use of resources.
• Causes of environmental degradation and resource depletion vary from region to region and from country to country.
• Human activities also can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal. Such activities can accelerate many natural changes.
• Risk analysis considers the type of hazard and estimates the number of people that might be exposed and the number likely to suffer consequences. The results are used to determine the options for reducing or eliminating risks.
• Students should understand the risks associated with natural hazards (fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions), with chemical hazards (pollutants in air, water, soil, and food), with biological hazards (pollen, viruses, bacterial, and parasites), social hazards (occupational safety and transportation), and with personal hazards (smoking, dieting, and drinking).
• Individuals can use a systematic approach to thinking critically about risks and benefits. Examples include applying probability estimates to risks and comparing them to estimated personal and social benefits.
• Important personal and social decisions are made based on perceptions of benefits and risks.
• The effect of science on society is neither entirely beneficial nor entirely detrimental.
• Technological changes are often accompanied by social, political, and economic changes that can be beneficial or detrimental to individuals and to society.

Grades 9-12
• Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.
• Living organisms have the capacity to produce populations of infinite size, but environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension has profound effects on the interactions between organisms.
• Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected.
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives (CONTENT STANDARD F):
• Populations grow or decline through the combined effects of births and deaths, and through emigration and immigration. Populations can increase through linear or exponential growth, with effects on resource use and environmental pollution.
• Human populations use resources in the environment in order to maintain and improve their existence. Natural resources have been and will continue to be used to maintain human populations.
• The earth does not have infinite resources; increasing human consumption places severe stress on the natural processes that renew some resources, and it depletes those resources that cannot be renewed.
• Humans use many natural systems as resources. Natural systems have the capacity to reuse waste, but that capacity is limited. Natural systems can change to an extent that exceeds the limits of organisms to adapt naturally or humans to adapt technologically.
• Natural ecosystems provide an array of basic processes that affect humans. Those processes include maintenance of the quality of the atmosphere, generation of soils, control of the hydrologic cycle, disposal of wastes, and recycling of nutrients. Humans are changing many of these basic processes, and the changes may be detrimental to humans.
• Materials from human societies affect both physical and chemical cycles of the earth.
• Many factors influence environmental quality. Factors that students might investigate include population growth, resource use, population distribution, overconsumption, the capacity of technology to solve problems, poverty, the role of economic, political, and religious views, and different ways humans view the earth.
• Normal adjustments of earth may be hazardous for humans. Humans live at the interface between the atmosphere driven by solar energy and the upper mantle where convection creates changes in the earth's solid crust. As societies have grown, become stable, and come to value aspects of the environment, vulnerability to natural processes of change has increased.
• Human activities can enhance potential for hazards. Acquisition of resources, urban growth, and waste disposal can accelerate rates of natural change.
• Humans have a major effect on other species. For example, the influence of humans on other organisms occurs through land use--which decreases space available to other species--and pollution--which changes the chemical composition of air, soil, and water.

State Standards

Science Standard 5
Earth’s dynamic systems are made up of the solid earth (geosphere), the oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers and ice sheets (hydrosphere), the atmosphere, and organisms (biosphere). Interactions among these spheres have resulted in ongoing changes to the system. Some of these changes can be measured on a human time scale, but others occur so slowly, that they must be inferred from geological evidence.
• Surface water always flows downhill. Areas of higher elevation separate watersheds. In Delaware, this water eventually reaches the Delaware River, the Delaware Bay, the Atlantic Ocean or the Chesapeake Bay.

District of Columbia-
Grade 4-
4.7. Broad Concept: All organisms need energy and matter to live and grow. As a basis for understanding this concept, students:
• Investigate the Chesapeake Bay watershed and wetlands, and describe how they support a wide variety of plant and animal life that interact with other living and nonliving things.
Grade 6-
6.6. Broad Concept: Sources of materials differ in amounts, distribution, usefulness, and the time required for their formation. As a basis for understanding this concept, students:
• Describe that most rainwater that falls in Washington, DC, will eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay.
High School-
Environmental Sciences E.6. Broad Concept: Water is continually being recycled by the hydrologic cycle through the watersheds, oceans, and the atmosphere by processes such as evaporation, condensation, precipitation runoff, and infiltration. This life-giving cycle is continually and increasingly affected by human affairs. As a basis for understanding this concept, students:
o Describe the causes of, and the efforts to control, erosion in the Chesapeake Bay.
o Collect, record, and interpret data from physical, chemical, and biological sources to evaluate the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and wetlands, and describe how the Bay supports a wide variety of plant and animal life that interact with other living and nonliving things.
E.8. Broad Concept: Environmental quality is linked to natural and human-induced hazards, and the ability of science and technology to meet local, national, and global challenges. As a basis for understanding this concept, students:
• Differentiate between natural pollution and pollution caused by humans, and give examples of each.
• Describe sources of air and water pollution, and explain how air and water quality impact wildlife, vegetation, and human health.
• Describe the historical and current methods of water management and recycling, including the waste
• Compare and contrast the beneficial and harmful effects of an environmental stressor, such as herbicides and pesticides, on plants and animals. Give examples of secondary effects on other environmental components such as humans, water quality, and wildlife.
•Recognize and describe important legislation enacted to protect environmental quality, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

Grade 4- Ecology: Explain ways that individuals and groups of organisms interact with each other and their environment.
a. Identify and describe the interactions of organisms present in a habitat.
• Competition for space, food, and water
• Beneficial interactions: nesting, pollination, seed dispersal, oysters filtering as in the Chesapeake Bay, etc.
Grade 6- Environmental Issues: Recognize and explain that human caused changes have consequences for Maryland’s environment as well as for other places and future times.
a. Identify and describe a range of local issues that have an impact on people in other places.
b. Recognize and describe how environmental change in one part of the world can have consequences for other parts of the world.
c. Identify and describe that ecosystems can be impacted by human activities.
• Protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed
• Resource acquisition and use
• Land use decisions (agriculture, mining, and development)
• Recycling
• Use and disposal of toxic substances

North Carolina
Estuaries- Grade 8
3.03 Evaluate evidence that Earth’s oceans are a reservoir of nutrients, minerals, dissolved gases, and life forms:
• Estuaries.
• Marine ecosystems.
• Upwelling.
• Value and sustainability of marine resources.

Living Systems-Grade 6
6.7 The student will investigate and understand the natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems. Key concepts include
a) the health of ecosystems and the abiotic factors of a watershed;
b) the location and structure of Virginia’s regional watershed systems;
c) divides, tributaries, river systems, and river and stream processes;
d) wetlands;
e) estuaries;
f) major conservation, health, and safety issues associated with watersheds; and
g) water monitoring and analysis using field equipment including hand-held technology.

Earth Science-High School
ES.9 The student will investigate and understand how freshwater resources are influenced by geologic processes and the activities of humans. Key concepts include
a) processes of soil development;
b) development of karst topography;
c) identification of groundwater zones including the water table, zone of saturation, and zone of aeration;
d) identification of other sources of fresh water including rivers, springs, and aquifers, with reference to the hydrologic cycle;
e) dependence on freshwater resources and the effects of human usage on water quality; and
f) identification of the major watershed systems in Virginia including the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
ES.11 The student will investigate and understand that oceans are complex, interactive physical, chemical, and biological systems and are subject to long- and short-term variations. Key concepts include
a) physical and chemical changes (tides, waves, currents, sea level and ice cap variations, upwelling, and salinity variations);
b) importance of environmental and geologic implications;
c) systems interactions (density differences, energy transfer, weather, and climate);
d) features of the sea floor (continental margins, trenches, mid-ocean ridges, and abyssal plains) as reflections of tectonic processes; and
e) economic and public policy issues concerning the oceans and the coastal zone including the Chesapeake Bay.
Biology-High school
BIO.9 The student will investigate and understand dynamic equilibria within populations, communities, and ecosystems. Key concepts include
a) interactions within and among populations including carrying capacities, limiting factors, and growth curves;
b) nutrient cycling with energy flow through ecosystems;
c) succession patterns in ecosystems;
d) the effects of natural events and human activities on ecosystems; and
e) analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems including the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.