Watershed Walkabout: Cape Fear

Our featured outreach program is an interactive, inquiry-based opportunity with 35 grade-appropriate STEAM lessons, taught exclusively to students in the Southeastern NC area.  These lessons are all correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards, NC Essential Standards, and Ocean and Climate Literacy Standards.  Check out how we meet the standards HERE.

Here's how it works:

Choose a lesson, contact our Director of Education to schedule a day that's suitable for you and the other teachers in your grade, and we'll bring the science to you! We don't need an auditorium or a gymnasium because our presentation style requires us to be in your classroom with your students. Each lesson is hands-on, so students get the most out of the 45-minute lessons as possible.

Cost is $75 for one class (base price) and just $40 each additional class same day. We use this flat rate so it's cheaper for your students. For example: 4 classes = $195 (plus tax). For 100 students total, that would be $2/student! Discounted rates apply when scheduling multiple lessons throughout the year. We can only accept check or money order at this time. Registration must be made at least two weeks in advance and cancellations must be made within 24 hours of the scheduled date.

Our COVID-19 and CDC Updates:

We have altered our lessons to the best of our ability. Because our lessons are hands-on and interactive, students will be working together in small groups with shared materials. Please go HERE to view our updates for each individual lesson we offer.

Drawing Time

K - 1st Grade:

  • We Are All Connected - Humans aren’t the only species that needs and uses water. Students will discover how we are connected to many different plants and animals and create a collage of water use and water needs. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.2, 1.L.1, 1.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.K.5, SL.1.5, K.G.2.2, K.C.1.1, 1.G.2.2, 2.G.2.1, K.CC.1,

          1.G.2.2, NC.K.CC.1, NC.1.NBT.1, K.V.1.3, K.V.3, 1.V.1.3, 1.V.3

  • What Happened to My Food? - Students will learn how species cope with limited resources and what happens when food sources run out.  In this fun and interactive musical chairs game, students must compete for food before it becomes depleted.

       NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.2, 1.L.1, 1.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: K.C&G.1.2, 1.E.1.3, NC.K.CC.1, NC.K.CC.6, K.OA.1, 1.OA.1,


  • Sand Critters - Who lives under the sand when we go to the beach?  Students will identify these sand-dwelling organisms and their adaptations for living underground. They will then create their own sand critters. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.1, 1.L.1.1, 1.L.1.2, 1.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.K.1, SL.1.1, SL.K.5, SL.1.5, K.C.1.1

  • Sea Jellies Among Us - Get up close and personal with sea jellies without getting stung. Students will learn which species may inhabit the estuary and how their bodies are quite similar to ours. They will then create their own sea jellies to take home. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: K.L.1, 1.L.1, 1.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.K.1, SL.1.1, SL.K.5, SL.1.5, K.C.1.1, K.V.1.1, K.V.3, 1.V.1.1,


  • Baleen In-Between - Different whales feed in different ways and this fun game demonstrates those feeding mechanisms. Students will understand what happens to both baleen and toothed whales when humans begin to interact with their food supplies. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: K.L.1, 1.L.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: K.C.1.1, K.CC.1, K.CC.6, NC.1.G.2

  • From the Poles to the Coast - What happens when polar ice melts and sea levels rise? Students will experiment with ice and heat to understand how climate change and rising temperatures affect our coastal communities. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: K.E.1.1, 1.L.1.3

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: NC.K.MD.2, K.H.1.2, K.G.1.2, 1.G.2.1

  • Elasmo-Craze - Sharks, rays, and skates are all cartilaginous fish.  That means they only leave behind their teeth and some vertebrae.  Students will have an opportunity to be archaeologists for a day and go on a hunt to discover who used to frequent our waters.

       NC Essential Standards: K.P.2.1, K.L.1.1, 1.L.1.2, 1.L.2.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: K.G.1.2, 1.G.1.1, NC.K.MD.2, NC.K.G.4

Biology Class

2nd - 3rd Grade:

  • Match My Habitat - In this memory match-up game, students will become familiar with local species as they match organisms to their habitats.  Ecosystems range from the Atlantic Ocean to a barrier island, and from the estuary to the Cape Fear River.

       NC Essential Standards: 2.L.1, 3.L.2.2, 3.L.2.4

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.2.3, SL.3.3, 3.G.1.3

  • Turtles, Turtles, Everywhere - Box turtles, terrapins, and sea turtles are three species that represent different habitats along our coast. Based on clues about their nesting areas, food sources, predators, and home ranges, students will determine which species belongs to which habitat. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: 2.L.2.2, 3.E.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.2.2, SL.3.2, SL.2.5, SL.3.5, 3.G.1.6, 2.V.2.3,

          2.V.3.1, 3.V.2.3

  • One Shell or Two - Seashells come in all shapes and sizes. By being a scientist for a day, students will use a dichotomous key to differentiate between gastropods (univalves) and bivalve mollusks and learn how these shell homes are made.

       NC Essential Standards: 2.L.2.2, 3.E.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.2.3, SL3.3, NC.3.G.1

  • "Web of Life" - The salt marsh-tidal creek ecosystem is a web of organisms, from microscopic plankton, to birds of prey and sea turtles. This game demonstrates how the food web is built and how it can be altered by human interference, from overfishing to pollution.

       NC Essential Standards: 2.L.1, 3.L.2.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.2.3, SL.3.3, 2.G.2.2

  • Sealed With Blubber - Marine mammals such as seals, whales, and dolphins visit our shores throughout the year.  Some have incredible migrations to much colder waters. This activity uses a “blubber glove” experiment to demonstrate the role their blubber has in insulating their bodies. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: 2.L.2.2, 3.L.1.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.1, SL.3.1, 2.G.2.1, 2.G.2.2, 3.G.1.3

  • Made From Land, Made From Sea - Sand comes from many different sources, sometimes from rocks eroded away by rivers and rains, sometimes from shells and skeletons of animals broken apart by the ocean.  Students will use sand samples to determine the geography of its origin and create sand wheels from different parts of the world. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: 2.P.2, 3.E.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.2.2, SL.3.2, 2.G.2.2, 3.G.1.3

  • Dichotomous Dilemma - Many fish species have adapted to find food without becoming prey. Field biologists will often use dichotomous keys to identify these morphological features. Students will first use one to identify local species, and then will create their own using only characteristics of an unknown species. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: 2.L.2, 3.L.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.2.3, SL.3.3, 2.V.2.3, 2.V.3.1, 3.V.2.3


4th - 5th Grade:

  • "Incredible Journey" - Become a water droplet and follow the water cycle through the Cape Fear River basin. Students will visually demonstrate how pollution can affect the entire water cycle and discuss what they can do to keep it out. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.3, 5.P.2.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.4.1, SL.5.1, SL.4.5, SL.5.5, 4.G.1.2, 5.G.1.2, 4.V.2.3,

          4.CX.2.2, 5.V.2.3

  • It's a Mutual Thing - Some species benefit from each other, some do not benefit at all, and some take what they need and harm the other species. Students play a matching game to see which symbiotic relationships exist along our coast.

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1, 5.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: RI.4.1, RI.5.1, SL.4.1, SL.5.1

  • Share and Share Alike - Over time, the salt marsh-tidal creek ecosystem has been altered by humans.  In this activity, students will take a trip through time as the marsh is developed and water resources become more valuable and more polluted. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1, 5.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.4.1, SL.5.1, 4.H.1.3, 4.G.1.2, 5.G.1.2

  • Invading Your Space - Students will learn to identify native plant species and non-native and invasive species in this old camp game of "Red Rover."  It's a great way for students to visualize how easily it is for a species to overpopulate an ecosystem. (uses large play area)

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.4, 5.L.2.3

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.4.1, SL5.1

  • Alternate Route - Sea turtles migrate all along the Atlantic coast, as well as far out to the middle of the ocean.  Students will follow each life stage of a loggerhead sea turtle from hatchling to adult, explore each habitat, and demonstrate what happens when humans impact their life cycle.

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1, 5.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.4.1, SL.5.1, 4.G.1.3, 5.G.1.2

  • Sea Level is On the Rise - Sea level is rising and the diamondback terrapin is in danger. Students will investigate the habitat of this turtle species and how tides and rising seas can have a lasting effect on its nesting area, food sources, and whole ecosystem. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1, 5.P.2.1, 5.L.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.4.1, SL.5.1, 4.G.1.3, 5.G.1.3

  • Animal S.O.S. - Veterinarians don’t just take care of your cat or dog. They are called on during stranding rescues of much larger animals, such as marine mammals or sea turtles. In this role playing game, students will become marine veterinarians for some sick and debilitated species and then create wildlife protection posters. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1, 5.L.2.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.4.1, SL.5.1, 4.G.1.2, 5.G.1.2, 4.V.2.3, 4.CX.2.2, 5.V.2.3


6th - 8th Grade:

  • "Sum of the Parts" - Our waters flow from the mountains to the sea in the Cape Fear River basin. So what we put into our waterways affects everything down to the ocean. Students will elaborate on people pollution by exploring what happens when someone else’s trash winds up in their backyard down-river. (craft/art component)

       NC Essential Standards: 6.E.2.4, 7.E.1.6, 8.E.1.1, 8.E.1.4

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1, SL.6.2, SL.6.5, SL.7.5, SL.8.5, 7.G.1.3,

          6.V.2, 6.CX.2.2, 7.V.2.2, 8.V.2

  • Microscope Mania - There's a whole world of marine life that we can't see with our naked eyes.  In this activity, students are introduced to the microscopic life stages and whole organisms of the ocean ecosystem.  They will explore how to use simple microscopes as well as identify where some common food chains begin.

       NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2.3, 7.L.1.2, 8.L.3

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1, SL.6.5, SL.7.5, SL.8.5

  • Anatomy of a Beach - Our coastlines are changing because of stronger and more frequent storms. Students will construct a model of a barrier island to visualize how barrier islands change both seasonally and tidally. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: 6.E.2.2, 6.L.2.3, 7.P.2.2, 8.E.1.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1, 7.G.1.3, 8.G.1.3

  • Terrapin Bingo - Learn everything there is to know about Diamondback terrapin habitat, food sources, and predators in this fun bingo game. Students will also discuss the human-related impacts on terrapin habitat, population, and reproduction.

       NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2.3, 7.L.2.3, 8.E.1.1, 8.E.1.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1, 6.G.1.4, 7.G.1.3, 8.G.1.3

  • Mighty Migrations - From birds to whales to turtles, North Carolina's waters are the migration route for so many species. In this interactive game, students will explain and demonstrate these migration paths and observe human-created obstacles these species face seasonally.(uses large play area)

       NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2.3, 7.L.2.3, 8.E.1.1, 8.L.3.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: RI.6.2, RI.7.2, RI.8.2, 6.G.1.4, 7.G.1.3, 8.G.1.3

  • Calcium Carbonate Calamity - Mollusks appear all along our coast and grow by extracting calcium carbonate from the ocean.  Students will take what they know about seashells and create a chemistry experiment to show how their exoskeletons are being weakened by the acidification of the ocean. (uses chemicals/safety gear)

       NC Essential Standards: 6.P.2.3, 6.L.2.3, 7.L.2.3, 8.P.1.3, 8.P.2.2, 8.L.3

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1, 6.G.1.4, 7.G.1.3, 8.G.1.3

  • Marine CSI - This interactive investigation brings out the detective in each student as they examine a mock crime scene. Students will bring their best thinking skills forward as they work together to solve the mystery of who polluted a local waterway.

       NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2.3, 7.L.2.3, 8.E.1, 8.L.3

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: RI.6.1, RI.7.1, RI.8.1, SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1, 6.G.1.4, 6.E.1.2,



High School:

  • Going Up? - Under the surface of the ocean flows warm and cold currents. In this experiment, students will differentiate between the two types of currents and demonstrate how upwelling occurs off Africa's Atlantic coast. (water component)

       NC Essential Standards: EEn.2.3.1, EEn.2.6.2, Bio.2.1.1, Bio.2.2.1

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1

  • Are You Fit to Survive? - Species have been equipped to survive on this planet for millions of years by adapting to their changing environment. In this game, students will become predators to learn what it means to be the fittest to survive.

       NC Essential Standards: Bio.2.1.2, Bio.2.1.3, Bio.2.2.1, Bio.3.4.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1, AH2.H.1.3, NC.M2.S-IC.2, NC.M3.S-IC.1

  • A Diplomatic Island - Let’s have a debate! Students will work in teams to decide the future of a barrier island when it comes under threat of being developed. They will have to fight for both sides to determine the best way to satisfy all stakeholders.

       NC Essential Standards: EEn.2.2, EEn.2.4, EEn.2.7.3, EEn.2.8.3, EEn.2.8.4, Bio.2.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: RI.9-10.1, W.9-10.1, W.11-12.1, SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1, SL.9-10.3,

        SL.11-12.3, SL.9-10.4, SL.11-12.4, AH2.H.2.3, FP.C&G.2.7, FP.C&G.3.6

  • A Little Crab on a Big Decline - Blue crabs are a top fishery in NC, but what happens when their population suddenly plummets? Students will play a game that shows how an increase in fishing or natural disasters could cause major decline in the population. (non-allergy food component)

       NC Essential Standards: EEn.2.4.2, EEn.2.7.3, EEn.2.8.2, Bio.2.1.4, Bio.2.2
       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1, AH2.H.1.3, AH2.H.3.2, FP.C&G.27,


  • Sea Turtle Salvation - Sea turtles nest and feed along our coast, but sometimes they become sick and need to be rescued. Students become rehabilitators for the day by identifying specific diseases and discussing how to treat their “patients.”

       NC Essential Standards: EEn.2.4.2, EEn.2.7.3, Bio.2.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: W.9-10.1, W.11-12.1, SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1, SL.9-10.4,


  • It's Getting Hot in Here - Climate change is happening daily and with it comes an increase in temperature and altered weather patterns. These changes are affecting more than just humans. In this game, students will determine how a slight change in temperature is modifying sea turtle nests and what that means for their species in the future. 

       NC Essential Standards: EEn.2.2.1, EEn.2.6.3, EEn.2.6.4, EEn.2.7, Bio.2.1.2, Bio.2.2, Bio.3.2.3

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1, SL.9-10.4, SL.11-12.4, NC.M2.S-IC.2

  • Tragedy of the Commons - Commercial fishing takes place right off our coast, but who owns the sea and those fishing rights? In this game, students examine what happens when fishing industries take advantage of these common waters and deplete whole fisheries. (uses large play area)

       NC Essential Standards: EEn.2.8.2, Bio.2.2.2

       Cross-Curriculum Standards: SL.9-10.1, SL.11-12.1, AH2.H.1.3, FP.C&G.2.7, NC.M1.S-ID.7