Loch Raven: Students immerse themselves in reef-ball project

Staff at Pleasant Plains Elementary School and Halstead Academy have been making science come alive for the school's fourth-grade students.

As an extension to the Baltimore County Science Curriculum, students at Halstead worked together to construct 175-pound "reef balls," which are man-made concrete structures. The balls will be moved into the Chesaspeake Bay in the spring where they will serve as a habitat for bay life with the goal of bringing back the declining oyster population.

Before the winter break, students learned about oysters, reef balls and the importance of bay restoration during a presentation by the Agricultural Education Foundation. They learned that oyster filter the bay water improving the bay habitat.

During the week of Jan. 7, Halstead students under the direction of staff from Baltimore County Public School's outdoor science department worked hard to construct one ball.

Susie Peeling, resource teacher for the two schools, explained the process. "The students assemble a mold with a huge ball in the middle called a bladder. They put smaller balls around the bladder. They mix concrete and cement together and pour this into the mold. After the concrete and cement hardens, the mold, the balls and bladder are removed thus creating a habitat for bay life as fish can swim through the holes and hide for protection and oysters can cling to the outside of the ball thus serving as an artificial reef."

Pleasant Plains students will repeat the process during the week of Jan. 25.

Hands-on study about the bay will continue when students from both schools sail with the Living Classrooms Foundation in the spring. On that trip, whey will learn about bay ecology and dissect oysters thus improving their understanding of bay life.

Peeling's comments proved the success of the program, "the kids thought it was a fabulous project as they were actively engaged in the hands-on authentic learning. They can't wait to sail with the Living Classrooms and have the opportunity to dissect an oyster."

Enjoy homemade pancakes, sausage, bacon, fruit toppings, beverage and dessert at Hiss United Methodist Church Shrove Tuesday dinner from 5 to 7p.m. on Feb. 12. The community is invited to the event, which is hosted by the church's youth group, LABeL, (Love and be Loved). The church is located at 8700 Harford Road. For more information, call the church at 410- 668-5665.

Treat yourself to an evening of Longaberger Basket Bingo on Friday, Feb. 15at Tall Cedars of Lebanon, 2501 Putty Hill Avenue and support the music program at Towson High School. Tickets are $20 at the door which opens at 6pm. The evening will also feature live music by the school's Jazz Ensemble and a cappella singers in addition to 19 bingo games, 50/50 and food available for purchase. Tickets $15 can be purchased in advance before Jan. 30 by check made out to THS Music Boosters and mailed to THS Music Boosters Bingo, c/o THS, 69 Cedar Ave., Towson, MD 21286.

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