Since 2008, the Terrapins in the Classroom program has collected tiny terrapins from Poplar Island, to be placed in local schools for a year-long project with students. Students collect data on their terrapin’s growth throughout the year and work in concert with experts and staff from the Aquarium. Experts track the progress of the terrapins and serve as a resource for teachers throughout the program.
During the 2015 school year alone, 8,409 students in the 44 participating schools interacted with the terrapins in some capacity. While most schools have one terrapin, some have two to contribute data to a new experiment run by Dr. Willem Roosenburg at Ohio University, who has studied terrapins for decades. Through this partnership, the schools with two terrapins alter the water temperature for one terrapin to see if there is any impact on the turtles’ growth! This adds new insight to the overall data collected throughout the year and provides a new opportunity for students to contribute to important research.
The culmination of the students’ efforts is the release of the terrapins on Poplar Island at the end of the school year. In 2016, 123 students traveled to Poplar Island to release a total of 37 terrapins. The release is a cause for celebration as the terrapins populate the island and the students revel in their own successful completion of the program.
Watch to learn more about the program in schools across Maryland:
Stay tuned for more updates from the Terrapins in the Classroom program!