Plum Island Long-Term Ecological Research Site


Site Resources:






School Yard

Links to other LTER sites

Weather Station
(Field House Web Site)

PIE LTER Brochure

Schoolyard LTER

The goals of our K-12 program are to 1) excite students and their teachers about science through hands on activities in their own backyards; 2) encourage students to consider a career in science; 3) promote environmental stewardship.  We collaborate with Mass Audubon, the Gulf of Maine Institute, and The Governor's Academy to provide local middle and high school students with opportunities to perform hands-on scientific research throughout the various ecosystems in the Plum Island Sound area.   Our current K-12 programs reach more than 1,000 students a year.  We also have a number of useful resources for K-12 teachers including curricula and books appropriate for K-12 .

The PIE-LTER Schoolyard K-12 education program, The Salt Marsh Science Project, is done in conjunction with Mass Audubon and administered by Elizabeth Duff.  The program is aimed at students in grades 5 through 12.  There are currently 10 participating schools, most on the Massachusetts North Shore but there are some in the Boston area.  The key aspect of this program is a hands-on experiential program in the student’s own backyard. Students work with their teachers and scientists to learn about salt marshes and the impact of the expansion of the common reed (Phragmites australis), an invasive plant that grows in salt marshes.  Students collect their own data and compare what they have found to previous classes in their own sites and to the broader area. Ms. Duff has been honored for her work, by receiving the prestigious awards “Gulf of Maine Visionary Awardf” and the Massachusetts Marine Educator of the Year Award. For more information see The Salt Marsh Science Project.

Striped Bass Striped Bass Curriculum

Striper Science:
Striper Science is a set of lesson plans and resources for middle school and high school level students based on striped bass research conducted in Massachusetts. Resources include PowerPoint presentations, inquiry lessons based on databases, field studies, and online videos. We are proud to present these lesson plans and resources which are based on Massachusetts Science Curriculum Frameworks.

This work was conducted by partners associated with PIE LTER. The scientific research was conducted by Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, UMass-Amherst (Dr. Martha Mather, Sarah Pautzke and Kristen Ferry) and supported by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Lesson developers and advisors include Liz Duff, Martha Mather, Kristen Ferry, Robert Muth, Jack Finn, Sarah Pautzke, Pat Harcourt and Melissa Sanderson. Striper Science was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Find out how you can support this research through the Adopt-a-Bass program.

Striper Science Outline:
This contains an outline of the Striper Science essential understandings, vocabulary, and Massachusetts Science Frameworks. (PDF 108K)

Lesson plans may be used individually. However, the suggested sequence for these lessons is as follows:

  1. Where in the Bay?
  2. Striper Prey and Salinity
  3. Lesson for Exploring Estuarine Living Marine Resources (ELMR) Database
  4. Searching for Striper Spawn
  5. "Why Stripers Go" Lesson Plan
    Learn about research on striped bass traveling choices and diet done by Kristen Ferry and Martha Mather in Plum Island Sound.
  6. Seine Surveys
  7. Bass Habitat Use
    Learn about striped bass behavior in Plum Island Sound based on research done by Martha Mather and Sarah Pautzke.
  8. Interviewing Anglers
    Conduct a survey with local anglers following an interview format designed by Robert Muth, Professor, Department of Natural Resources Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
    1. Angler Survey (PDF )
    2. Analyze data using this excel format. (XLS )
  9. Sustainable Fishing Scales and Tales Lesson
  10. Investigate: Climate Change & Striped Bass

Students in the News:
Science lessons head out to the local environment by Sally Kuhn (Daily News)

Governor's Academy (GA) teachers and students have been participating with researchers investigating populations of mussels and snails in tidal creeks around the Rowley River.

Governor's Academy (GA) teachers and students have taken several vegetation surveys near the Middle Road bridge, on the Parker River. Survey Transects extend away from the river edge. Presence/absence is recorded for one meter intervals.

Governor's Academy Middle Road Vegetation Transects:
Year Transect # File
2000 1 - 8B MAR-PR-GA-TransMiddle2000
2002 1, 2 ,3 and 5 MAR-PR-GA-TransMiddle2002
2006 1, 2 and 4 MAR-PR-GA-TransMiddle2006
2007 1, 3, 4 and 5 MAR-PR-GA-TransMiddle2007
2009 1 MAR-PR-GA-TransMiddle2009


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #OCE-9726921, #OCE-0423565, #OCE-1058747, #OCE-1238212. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.