Our Field Trip to Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve


by Class 4/5 and Mrs. Allsup

We went on a field trip to Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (WBNERR) on Tuesday, October 10. It was a beautiful, warm fall day. Our guide was Nancy Church from the education staff at WBNERR and we were also accompanied by Megan Tyrell, Auden’s mom, who is the research coordinator at WBNERR, and two parents, Steph Sperry and Anke O’Neil.  Here are some observations from our trip. 

The first thing we did was go into the building to see a model of Waquoit Bay. Here are some facts about the model of Waquoit Bay: The Waquoit Bay model was made by a man named Jim. To make the model they looked at the bay from Google maps. Every bit of land and water is where the real land and water is in the bay. All of the houses are exactly where they are in real life. It was amazing.

While we were looking at the model, Mrs. Church told us that humans have dug a trench that is about 15 feet deep. This is a boat channel. But on the sides of the trench, it only gets from about three feet to six feet deep. The model showed where it got deeper. You could see all the sandbars. It was really cool.

When we were walking down to the bay we walked on a path. Because of erosion, they had to make the path in the form of a switchback. The Waquoit Bay Reserve is on a hill that has a drop off at the edge and, when it is really windy,  the sand falls down the edge. To stop the erosion, they put a net at the bottom of the hill, but it did not work. As we walked along the beach we saw trees that had fallen down the hill and the roots were sticking out. 

We walked to a river mouth and waded out into the nice cold water and went to the other side. Then we got duct tape and put it on the dry sand and looked to see whether any of the grains of sand were red.

We modeled erosion in a tank with water and sand. There was a lot of erosion and all the sand was moved by water to the other side of the tank. We learned that real soil absorbs more than sand because it has decayed wood and plants that act like a sponge, but sand only has crushed shells and bits of rock, so it doesn't absorb water as well as soil. 

We were given magnets to find iron in the sand and everyone collected black bits of iron. When we went inside their education building, we put a map in a big, black bucket, put sand on the part of the map where Sandy Neck is, and we blew through straws for a demonstration of erosion by wind. We also rubbed rocks together to make sand. We also poured water into two tubs with little wooden houses. When the water level rose, the houses floated out to the other side of the tub.  

We are grateful to the staff at WBNERR for this beautiful and informative field trip.