May 23, 2018
School & Youth
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  • In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.
    In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.
  • In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.
    In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.
  • In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.
    In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.

Jones Students Shell-ebrate Science By Raising A Terrapin

Dave Topp
Dave Topp's picture
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May 2, 2018

Every Friday at Jones Elementary School, second-grade students study and observe a turtle. No, they’re not watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” reruns. Instead, they are fostering a turtle hatchling.

In conjunction with Arlington Echo and the Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP), second-graders at Jones Elementary have helped “Al G Man” grow from the size of a quarter to near the size of a deck of playing cards in eight months.

According to Heather McCarthy, an outdoor educator at Arlington Echo, the hatchlings are closer to the size of a 3-year-old turtle because of the care received in this program. This greatly increases their survival rate when they are returned to the wild.

“This is my third year having a hatchling,” said Sarah Bigelow, a second-grade teacher at Jones. “It’s just an incredible program.”

McCarthy also added that about 1 percent of the hatchlings in the wild will survive to the point of reproductive maturity.

Northern diamondback terrapins are placed in classrooms around Anne Arundel County to be raised and studied for conservation research headed up by Dr. Willem Roosenburg, an associate professor of biology at Ohio University.

“It’s a science experiment. It’s not just a class pet,” Bigelow said. “They have been wonderful about that. Every year that we’ve had a terrapin, the kids have been very respectful.”

Obtained from Poplar Island, the hatchlings will live in their carefully constructed and monitored environment from about October to May every year. Students at Jones Elementary said goodbye to “Al G Man” on April 26, as he was brought back to Poplar Island and released into the wild.

“Raising a terrapin is excellent because it's funny and cute,” added Gabriella Morris, a second-grader at Jones Elementary.

Along with collecting data during this process, students use this opportunity to learn about the Chesapeake Bay and wildlife.

“He's really cute, but you need to keep a close eye on him when he's out of his tank, because he's fast,” said second-grader Caden Gruver.

Bigelow recalled when a student from last year’s class was motivated by what she learned from the TERP program.

“She had a birthday party and asked everyone to make a donation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in lieu of giving her presents,” Bigelow said.

This opportunity has led the students to reading Dr. Seuss’s “Yertle the Turtle.” From there, students have taken creative writing projects of their own, writing stories about the adventures of “Al G Man.”

“Our terrapin, Al G. Man, is very curious, smart and loves to bask,” added second-grader Penelope Jacobs.

This year in Anne Arundel County, 78 teachers at 65 schools participated in the TERP program. In total, 96 terrapins were studied and cared for as a part of this partnership. “So much good comes out of it,” Bigelow said.

For more information about the TERP program, visit www.arlingtonecho.org/programs/education/terrapin-connection.html.


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