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Science-Based Education Programs for Grades 6-8

Explore Human and Wildlife Connections at Bolsa Chica!


The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is an excellent place for students to get outdoors, and experience wetland science and history first hand!  The Bolsa Chica Conservancy offers a full spectrum of educational opportunities to students in grades 6-8.  Our programs align with California State Standards and are tailored to suit the age, grade and maturity level of our participants.  We cover all aspects of wetland ecology, watershed protection, biology and history, with an emphasis on conservation and restoration.  Through our It’s All Connected programs, we provide visitors with an understanding of the importance of the unique wetland habitat as well as the role it plays within the larger water cycle. We encourage our learners to consider the role they play in maintaining the health of our watersheds, wetlands, and oceans, and how ultimately, It’s All Connected!


Program Activities

Programs listed below can be combined to create a tailor-made experience for your students!


Suggested Donation:
$5.00 / Student, up to 2 hours
$1.50 / Student, each additional hour

Guided Hike of the Wetlands

Description: Explore the many wonders of the wetlands!  Visitors get to experience the wetlands first hand during a guided nature hike and tour of our interpretive center.  Coyotes, reptiles, and birds, oh my!   There is always something exciting on our trails, and participants will get to see some of the diverse wildlife living at Bolsa Chica while learning about wetlands and their importance worldwide.  Issues specific to Bolsa Chica are covered.  Topics include, but are not limited to, wetland ecology, plants and animals, adaptations, watersheds, and importance of wetland habitats for migration and flyways, California endemic species, abiotic and biotic factors, flood control, pollution control, and endangered species.

Total Time: Varies from 1-2 hours

CA Science Standards:
6th- 2a-c, 5a-e, 6b

7th - 3a, 3e, 4c, 4e, 4g

8th - 5e, 6a, 6b

CA History Standards:

6th - 1-1

Birds and Adaptations

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student
Investigate the changing features of the wetlands and discover some of the birds that call the wetlands home!  Students will learn how tides change the wetlands every day, and how low-tides help create a “marsh market” for the birds.  Using binoculars, students will have the opportunity to count birds, record the numbers throughout their visit, and learn to identify some of the birds they see.  Students will also participate in a “Bird Beaks” game to discover how different beaks have adapted and why.

Total Time: 40 minutes

Wetland Food Webs

Description: Explore the intricacies of the food webs here at the Wetlands! Students will get to know some of the plants and animals who call Bolsa Chica their home and discover why these connections are so vital to a functioning ecosystem.

Total Time:  25 minutes

Hands–On Laboratory Activities

Activities listed below will complement any of our program activities and help to reinforce concepts discussed during the visit. Please note: costs listed are flat fees; we do not apply an hourly rate. Total time varies from 1-2 hours.

Plankton Lab

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student
Description: Through this lab students will learn about the importance of plankton in wetland ecology.  They will have the opportunity to collect plankton samples from the wetland using a plankton net and observe organisms under microscopes while identifying the various types of plankton.

Plant Lab

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student

Description: Students will discover the different plant communities at Bolsa Chica, and learn about special adaptations plants have to enable them to survive in these communities.  They will also learn about native versus non-native vegetation and the impacts of invasive species on plant communities.  Students will study plant composition in these communities using either the quadrat method (Pound & Clements, 1898) or transect method.

Soils of the Wetland

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student

Description:  After an introduction on soil analysis, students will collect and extract soils from a variety of locations in the wetland.  Once soil extraction is complete, students will run a series of tests to determine grain size, pH, salinity, and nutrient levels of the soils.

Water Quality Lab

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student
Description: This program introduces students to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and water quality data monitoring.  Students are introduced to the basics of wetland ecology and hydrology.  Students will then gain hands-on field experience and will be introduced to water quality monitoring using LaMotte tablet kits.

What’s in the Mud?

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student
Description: This lab is designed to give students the chance to identify and learn about many different tidal marsh invertebrates at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in a fun and interactive way. Students will be able to go out in the field to search for tidal invertebrates and view microscopic mud-dwelling animals in the classroom as well. Topics discussed include adaptations, feeding habits, and basic taxonomy.

Craft Activities


Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student
Create your own unique animal in this craft activity! Designed to complement any of our lectures and presentations, students will use sculpting clay in order to design a new species and give it important adaptations for survival. Plus, they will have a great keepsake to bring home from their visit to the Wetlands!
Total time: 25 minutes

Making Tracks

Suggested Donation: $3.00 per student

Description: Make a memorable impression at the wetlands!  Students learn all about the types of tracks animals make at the wetlands and then make some of their own!  Kids will be able to bring home these plaster impressions of tracks from animals at the wetlands and show off their tracking skills.
Total Time: 25 minutes


To schedule a visit, please visit:

BCC Program Interest Form

*Use the download link below for a complete PDF version of our programs:

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