Tiny Turtles, Big Lessons

Hatchlings Bring Science, Math and History to Life

University of Maryland students are accustomed to seeing larger-than-life Testudos, whether bronze statues or furry mascots. This school year, a few Terrapins got a chance to hold real terrapins—small enough to fit in the palm of their hands.

The College of Education raised hatchlings Turbo, Finn and Squirt, as part of the Terrapin Education Research Partnership (TERP), a program that gives teachers across the state opportunities to incorporate turtles into classroom instruction to improve environmental literacy.

“They’re so engaging, and they’re a really powerful tool for learning, as well as an inspiration,” says Amy Green, director of the Center for Science and Technology in Education, who co-raised the tiny terps with Assistant Clinical Professor Angela Stoltz.

Students collected measurement and weight data for TERP researchers throughout the year. They learned about behavioral adaptations and climate impacts using the turtles in science and math courses, and explored their historical role in local Indigenous cultures.

This summer, the terrapins—now larger and less vulnerable to predators—will return to their birthplace in the Chesapeake Bay.


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