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in the sand


topic area:

diamondback terrapins

grade level:

2nd - 5th


Imagine what it must be like as a biologist studying terrapins on Poplar Island! What are terrapin nests like and how do their eggs survive?

In this interactive lesson, students learn about biologists on Poplar and the skills they use when studying terrapins. They will also learn how human actions and natural forces shape the survival of Maryland's state reptile.

lesson details:

This lesson has been uploaded for you to try learning more about what terrapin biologists study in the field. The biologists on Poplar who study terrapins are also known as herpetologists. The lesson was originally designed to occur in a large area such as a gym or open classroom, but there are printable materials so that you may try this at home. The lesson plan provides definitions of key vocabulary, a lesson background, and talking points for introducing and concluding the lesson with students.

The lesson includes a series of roles for students to play as wildlife biologists, suggested materials, and nest scenarios that resemble conditions across the Chesapeake Bay and on Poplar Island. This lesson is also currently offered through MES and the Port of Baltimore's TERP program. If you would like to request this lesson or a virtual presentation from MES educators and the terrapin ambassadors at your school please contact us here below! 


The intro and wrap-up sections of the activity provide a lot of detail about terrapin habitat and conservation. Because these can be more complex topics, it might be a good option for your class to discuss them together.


One option might be to ask students to focus on one positive and one negative thing that impacted their survival and read those sections thoroughly.

MES educators are also able to assist in leading introductions and wrap-ups, and can provide a virtual show-and-tell with our terrapin ambassadors (juvenile terrapins that normally travel with us as a part of our in-classroom education). Let us know if you'd be interested in having MES assist with the lesson, share the terrapin ambassadors, or provide a terrapin Q & A session.

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