Classes We Offer
The Barrier Island Environmental Education Program offers over 40 different classes to meet the needs of your students. We have divided them into one-hour, two-hour, and evening classes.
How long does your trash take to break down? How large is your carbon footprint? Students will learn about energy, renewable and non-renewable resources, recycling, and composting through a variety of hands-on activities. Students will also discuss how plants and animals become in danger of extinction and how we can help preserve, conserve, and protect our precious environment. The class ends with a tour of our beautiful Human Impact Garden!
You’re almost guaranteed to see dolphins here at Barrier Island- but how much do you really know about these unique marine mammals? Sign up for Marine Mammals and students will learn more about all types of marine mammals, with a specific focus on the bottlenose dolphins of the South Carolina coast. Students will leave this class knowing why these animals are so special and deserve our conservation efforts.
Offered during warm months
Work as a team to pull a large seine net through the surf and see what you catch! Students will learn about the wildlife that can be found in our estuary. Topics include fish physiology, adaptations, feeding habits, tidal movements, and population fluctuations. Students will have the opportunity to identify different types of fish while seining, name the parts of the fish, and tour our Aquarium.
Chase butterflies and capture insects like a true entomologist! In this class, students will learn about insects and other arthropods. This program covers the characteristics, life cycles, and adaptations of various insects, while also investigating their niche in the ecosystem. Pair this class with Pondering Life and see insects at all life cycle stages- our ponds are often a prime habitat for insect larvae and other arthropods.
From arthropods to alligators, your class will be amazed by what we find in the pond! Students will learn about pond ecosystems, succession, and trophic levels. Students will discuss abiotic and biotic factors and how they relate in the ecosystem. During class, students will use strainers to scoop from a fresh water pond, and then identify the macroinvertebrates found in the pond. Dip your toes into a pond study and learn about this unique habitat!
Which is more dangerous- a shark or a sofa bed? Your students might be surprised by the answer. The perfect class for those curious about this incredible fish, sign up for this class to have all of your shark-related questions answered: What is the fastest shark? The biggest? How are sharks like metal detectors? Through a variety of demonstrations and games, students will learn about shark anatomy, physiology, and sensory systems. Discover what makes sharks a keystone species, and why we should protect these amazing predators.
Formerly It Skinks
Students will have the opportunity to touch turtles, snakes (all non-venomous), and alligators as they learn about the characteristics of reptiles and amphibians. With a focus on species native to South Carolina, the class will cover adaptations, behaviors, and life cycles of each animal. An experienced naturalist will answer any student questions and encourage the safe treatment of all live animals.
Lost and Found
Follow your footsteps to hidden treasure! In this class, students will be taught basic orienteering skills. Through the use of a compass and basic math skills, students will be able to independently complete one (or two, as time allows) orienteering courses that take them throughout our beautiful property.
Can you trot like a deer or gallop like a hare? Can you tell the difference between two sets of paw prints in the sand? Animal tracking is the class for you! Students will observe and make inferences about animals by examining tracks around Barrier Island. Some tracks investigated may be deer, fox, bobcat, raccoon, birds, and more! Study skulls, furs, and scat to learn about animal habitats, behaviors, and adaptations on our Barrier Island.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Dig
Every sea turtle is a miracle- find out why in our Loggerhead Dig class. Students will learn about the life cycle of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle and the role of the Turtle Patrol. We will discuss threats to sea turtle survival and how we can help protect these precious creatures. The students will go out on the beach to find and relocate a model turtle nest.
Scales and Tails
Offered in winter months
Offered as the indoor version of Seining. Scales and Tails covers the same material with additional games and demonstrations. Students will learn about schooling, feeding habitats, fish physiology, fish adaptations, and more. Students will have the opportunity to put this knowledge into practice while observing the many species in our Aquarium.
Students will become ornithologists as they join us on a bird walk, complete with binoculars and field guides. Whether on the beach or in the forest, birds are everywhere on Barrier Island. Learn more about their habitats, adaptations, behaviors, migration patterns, flocking, and nesting. Students will be able to study bird skulls, feet, and wings to learn even more about these incredible creatures. Bird calling is just part of the fun!
Learn what makes a maritime forest unique as you walk through an abundant diveristy of plant life. As you are guided through the trails, the students will learn about the growth and development of the forest, specific plant characteristics, and the interactions of abiotic and biotic factors. Become a botanist and identify native species in a South Carolina maritime forest. Become an ecologist and observe the evidence of succession in these pristine woods.
Join us in our famous mudpit class! The mudpit is only a small portion of what we offer in this class. Students will experience a two-mile hike along the beach, sand dune, and salt marsh trails. Topics covered include tides, beach zones, barrier island formation, plant and animal life, and the relationships between barrier island ecosystems. See what you discover on the walk to the mudpit.
Practice teamwork, cooperation, and communication as students work together to navigate various obstacles. Your class will debrief each obstacle and reflect on the importance of leadership, positive feedback, and encouraging talk. Let your students grow in grit as they take on new challenges together!
An in-depth study of the pond ecosytem allows students to fully grasp the relationship between biotic and abiotic factors in this environment. Students will use a dichotomous key to identify the macroinvertebrates found in the pond, and use that knowledge to make inferences about water quality. Students will be able to connect the pond life they scoop from the water to the insect life they scoop from the air, using a variety of tools for closer observation. The students will see first-hand how different insects are adapted for different roles or niches in the environment, and how some have aquatic larval forms that then transform through metamorphosis into adult flying insects.
Woodstalk + Wetlands
Students will learn what factors make up a wetland and will participate in activities highlighting the crucial roles that wetlands play in an ecosystem. Students learn what wetlands look, feel, and smell like as they explore a salt marsh and freshwater slough. This class will emphasize the interrleationships between the maritime forest and wetland ecosystems. The students will leave this class knowing the importance of natural wetlands and how they can be protected.
Water Moccasin Trail
During a two mile hike through the woods, by the slough, and pausing at our outdoor classroom, students will learn about the unique plant life and natural history of the maritime forest. With a focus on botany, students will compare and contrast different types of trees and plants found as they walk. Other activities will review specific plant characteristics and adaptations that help them survive in the maritime forest.
Woodstalk + Claws
Offered in the Fall and Spring
Students learn about the characteristics of a maritime forest and the types of plants and animals that live there on a walk through the woods out to our Crab Dock. While enjoying a view of the tidal creek, students will check a baited crab trap for blue crabs, stone crabs, and more! Discuss the crab life cycle, commercial crabbing, and species management Studens will learn about epifaunal communities and sessile organisms.
Offered in the Fall and Spring
Work as a team to pull a large seine net through the surf and see what you catch! Students will learn about the wildlife that can be found in our estuary. Topics include fish physiology, adaptations, feeding habits, tidal movements, and population fluctuations. Students will have the opportunity to identify different types of fish while seining, name the parts of the fish, and tour our Aquarium. If one hour of seining seems to fly by too quickly, choose a two hour seining program. Students will have more time to study fish in depth, even incorporating discussion on sharks. Students will also have more opportunities to pull the nest through the surf.
Do the Virginia Reel (Barrier Island style), the Cha Cha Slide, and the Electric Slide as we dance the evening away! These are simple dances that are easy to learn. Enjoy a dance party suitable for all ages.
Offered in the Fall & Spring
Elegant and mysterious, owls can be heard in the night here at Barrier Island. Enjoy a night time walk with a focus on teaching the unique characteristics of local owl species. Sing songs, play games, and learn owl calls! Students also have the opportunity to dissect and investigate owl pellets, with the help of our naturalists. (This class requires an additional charge of $1 per students)
Offered During EST only
Use only your “night eyes” on a walk through the forest. This class focuses on sensory awareness and encourages students to overcome fear of the dark. The students will also learn about how nocturnal animals survive and thrive in the dark.
End the day with stories, riddles, songs and laughter around the fire. On clear nights, astronomy may be included as part of the fun.
Students will have the opportunity to improve debate skills and public speaking in a simulated town meeting. A hypothetical situation regarding the local environment is presented to the students. Groups of students are assigned a role which they must defend considering its economic, social, and environmental impacts. Students will analyze both sides of an issue and think critically about potential outcomes as they strive to reach consensus.
Offered during EST only
Learn about the wonders of the night sky from the recreation field or beach on an astronomy walk. Students will discuss stars (including constellations and folklore), planets, moons, meteors, satellites, and more!
Make sure students sleep well! Fun and active, students will play a variety of group oriented games. These ice breakers are mostly non-competitive and offer an outlet for physical activity following a full day of learning.
In teams, students will use pool noodles to play a lively and entertaining game of noodle hockey! Students will take turns trying to score goals for their team during the active, fast-paced activity.
Students will learn the characteristics of nocturnal bats, birds, and bugs, and explore their impact on our ecosystem. As they are lead on a nighttime “scavenger hunt”, students will discover, through a variety of games, that those sounds in the night are not so scary after all; rather, they show the presence of very important creatures.