Welcome to

Field Studies in Natural & Cultural History

Meaningful, fun, with a hands-on, inquiry-based approach involving multiple disciplines,

Kayak programs at:

Mattawoman Creek — a quiet, tidal freshwater tributary of the Potomac River with highly diverse freshwater marshes, just 30 miles south of Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. On-site nature center includes displays of local flora and fauna, microscopes, and plenty of space indoors and out for a classroom and picnicking.

Mallows Bay — a shallow, brackish water ecosystem that includes the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere, just 45 miles south of Washington, DC.

Rhode River — a sheltered environment with higher salinilty that supports blue crabs and salt marshes.

No kayaking experience or special equipment is required for our on-water educational programs.  Each program includes an educator, safety-trained instructors, a brief kayak lesson, and a safety discussion.  We use stable, two-person kayaks that are very easy to use.

Contact us today to discuss your needs. Choose from specific programs that are correlated to standards, or work with us to develop a program that is customized to meet your needs.  Contact us today!

  • Introduction to Watersheds (land)

    We will make a model of the school’s watershed or the Piscataway Creek Watershed to understand watersheds and human impacts on water quality.  Students will gain an understanding of how water flows and how smaller watersheds affect the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed. (This is conducted on land.)

  • Macro Invertebrates & Fish (land or kayak)

    Students will use nets to collect aquatic macro invertebrates and fish that can be used as indicators of creek health.  Students will identify and count the species and input the data into a water quality index.  (Land or kayak)

  • Water Chemistry (land or kayak)

    Students will determine creek health by conducting water quality experiments, such as measuring temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. Students will learn why these indicators are important and how they relate to the health of the creek. (Land or kayak)

  • Creek Botany (kayak)

    We will search for aquatic and shoreline plants and learn about plant structures and adaptations.  Students will also learn about edible and medicinal plants.

  • Creek Biodiversity (kayak)

    We will explore the plants and animals of Piscataway Creek to evaluate its biodiversity.  We will use seines and dip nets to identify and count invertebrates and fish, and we will identify submerged aquatic and other vegetation to determine how many different species are present, both native and non-native. (kayak)

  • Discovery Paddle

    We will spark student interest in science on a nature paddle full of sensory exploration.  Look in the water, listen for birds, and smell our favorite marsh plant that can be used to make candy.  We will encounter many different plants and animals on this trip, offering many natural teachable moments. (This is conducted by kayak only.)

  • Plankton (land or kayak)

    Students will collect plankton, learn to identify them, and learn about their role in the ecosystem.  (land or kayak)

  • American Eel Life Cycle (land and/or kayak)

    Students will learn about the fascinating life cycle of the American Eel and its critical role in the freshwater ecosystem.  If desired and available, we will kayak to some eel traps to count and measure the eels and record the data. (land and/or kayak)

Activities are correlated with standards of learning:


Structures and Adaptations

Life Cycles

Food Chains and Food Webs


Water Cycle

Ecosystems and Interdependencies

Human Impact on the Environment

Watershed Investigations by Foot and by Kayak

Students will investigate the biodiversity and quality of a waterway — identifying aquatic animals and plant, testing water quality, and learning how the these are interconnected and how humans impact the environment.

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Atlantic Kayak Company


Washington, DC Metro Area