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the terp

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What is the TERP Program?

The TERP (terrapin, education, research partnership) is a partnership between the National Aquarium, The Port of Baltimore, Ohio University, Maryland Environmental Service, Calvert County Public Schools, Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Program and the Schmidt Outdoor Education Center. Baby terrapins that are hatched on Poplar Island are distributed to classrooms across Maryland. These wild turtles are given the chance to grow over the fall and winter in classrooms. This program benefits both the students and the turtles. Students learn to care for and monitor the turtles, giving them a strong connection to the local environment, as well as, giving the turtles a head start in life. Turtles in the TERP program skip their hibernation, giving them time to grow larger than wild turtles of their same age. When these turtles are released, they are more likely to survive and help the population of terrapins increase.  The TERP program also conducts research in partnership with Ohio State University studying how changes in the environment effect terrapin populations.  

How can a turtle visit the classroom ?

A turtle from the TERP program can come visit a classroom paired with one of the lessons that features terrapins or Poplar Island. Students who are over the age of 8 may have the opportunity to hold the turtles. Lessons that include a visit from the Terrapins are listed below. To have a turtle come, please request a program. You can do this by selecting the request button located at the top of this page.

Diamonds in the Sand
Learn to “process” terrapin nests by uncovering eggs in the sand and collecting data. Also learn the history of Diamondback terrapins in the Chesapeake Bay and on Poplar Island.

Fun with Feltboards
Learn the history of Poplar Island on an interactive felt board; watch the land change, and grow. Also learn about the animals that live there, like the Diamondback terrapin.

Weighing and Measuring
learn the history of Diamondback terrapins in the Bay and how it relates to the Port of Baltimore and Poplar Island; even get the chance to meet some terrapins . Learn how to identify each one by the notches on their shells and help study how much they have grown by weighing and measuring each turtle.

Terrapin Travels
On a life size game board, learn about the life cycle of terrapins in the Bay. See if you can make it to the next nesting season on Polar Island by overcoming the same challenges as the turtles do.

Design a Diamondback

Learn what makes a turtle a turtle and how Diamondback terrapins have special adaptations to live in the Chesapeake Bay. One student will even become a turtle for the whole class to see.

Break up into groups and become an expert on part of the dredging process. Answer hard questions by exploring different resources, then share what you found with other groups to explain your findings and get answers to questions you uncover.

Parachute Party

Grow tall like a wetland grass and stand like a blue heron. In this lesson explore the food chains and cool adaptations of the plants and animals that live on poplar island by playing with a large parachute.  

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