Education & Research

Educational Curriculum for the Niantic Bay Overlook

Utilizing the Niantic Bay Overlook/Boardwalk for education augmentation can be done in many ways to obtain a variety of curriculum goals. The fifth grade students from Southwest Elementary School, in nearby Waterford, did just that as a day long field trip to end a year long curriculum unit on water and the Earth and region’s oceans. Funding for our trip was provided by a Waterford Education Grant, however the cost is minimal and was mostly for transportation of students to the site.

Under the direction of Classroom Teacher Kathy Steward and Language pathologist Amanda Zawacki, the 70 students were divided up into three groups. These groups rotated through the following three activities spending about 45 minutes per activity. One group was the water group. This group using waders and a seine net, and the help of Tom Savoy from the Old Lyme DEP Office, would draw a collection from the ocean and classify any animals or plant specimens collected. Securing a collection license would allow some items to be brought back to a salt water holding tank in the classroom.

The second group was the information group. It was their task to walk along the boardwalk in smaller groups of 2-3 students and gather information from reading the DEP educational signs posted along the walkway. Each student had a packet of questions that could be answered through the information provided on the signs. Questions were developed to relate to classroom curriculum and the town of Waterford were the students were from. The third group had more creative and artistic objectives. The structures group required the students to create sand sculptures of their own design.

A relaxing lunch and trash detail ended our trip to the Niantic Bay Boardwalk and Beach. Enjoyed by all and easily accessible to the mobility impaired students we had in the group.

Additional group activities could include: Plant group. Sketching and identifying beach plants and seaweed. Weather group. Monitoring and recording tide and weather activities throughout the day. Recording group. Using cameras and recording data. This group would be responsible for taking notes on all the activities of the day. Please direct any questions on this specific activity to Amanda Zawacki via email.


In the future the Foundation hopes to obtain a grant  to print and distribute educational, illustrated pamphlets to schools and the general public, showing the natural biodiversity in the local beach environment.  We hope to build on this by giving talks at schools and developing more “hands on” environmental projects.