Posted by: Matt Hurst | August 12, 2009


Living Classrooms is hosting our first NanoDays Event! On Saturday and Sunday August 15-16 our open hours at our Glen Echo site (7300 MacArthur Boulevard) will feature science experiments and activities focusing on nano technology.  Measure yourself in nanometers, create your own carbon molecule, learn all about how things pop and fizz, and see your fingerprints glow!

NanoDays is in collaboration with the Nanoscale Information Science Education Network (NISE), a national community of researchers and informal science educators, who have helped organize these events. NISE is dedicated to fostering public awareness, engagement, and understanding of nanoscale science and technology, which make them perfect collaborators in helping provide hands-on, environmental education.

This event is free for members of Living Classrooms, and is open for the public to attend at a cost of $5 per person, $3 for seniors (65+), and free for infants (less than 2 years).  We hope you’ll make it out for a great day of games and learning!

Here’s a few details you’ll want to know if you plan on coming
: 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, MD 20812
When: Saturday, August 15th and Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Who: Living Classrooms of the National Capitol Region (LCNCR) and NISE
Why: LCNCR is dedicated to providing hands-on environmental education to young people in the DC metro community.

Posted by: Matt Hurst | May 4, 2009

Nearly 4,000 Students Release Shad Fish into Potomac

student releasing shadAlmost 4,000 students from 53 different schools in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC will get their hands wet raising American shad and then releasing them into the Potomac River. The Shad Program is run by Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, a local non-profit organization that serves over 18,000 underserved youth and families in the Washington, DC metropolitan annually. Living Classrooms specializes in workforce development programs and hands-on educational enrichment, like the Shad Program.

Over eight years ago, Living Classrooms began helping the Potomac River’s quickly declining shad population, due to overfishing, poor river habitat quality, dam construction and pollution. Living Classrooms partnered with Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) “Schools in Schools Program,” which has been renamed The Shad Program. The program has grown from involving three schools in Montgomery and Fairfax Counties, to serving 53 schools throughout Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in MD; Arlington and Fairfax Counties in VA; and Washington, DC.

Over the course of one month, thousands of students will grow American shad in their classrooms, and then set them free into the Potomac River, thanks to funding from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS), CBF, Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and Mirant Mid Atlantic.

The eggs are harvested from wild shad by Jim Cummins, a biologist from ICPRB, alongside students and teachers. Watermen and kids take adult shad out of the water, retrieve the eggs, and fertilize them by the millions.

In March, the learning process begins with a teacher training program taught by Living Classrooms educators. The teachers are given equipment for students to begin building their hatchery systems, which will be the home for the eggs. A hatchery, or a shad system, is made out of a 2 x 4 wood frame, a 32 gallon trash can and a 16 gallon utility tube along with other equipment. This year, Living Classrooms and program partners have trained 64 local teachers and 26 volunteers.

In late April or early May, the eggs arrive. Students begin to closely monitor their growth inside the system to ensure as many eggs hatch into fry as possible. This means checking water temperature, chlorine, nitrates, ammonia and pH.

Finally, after spending one week monitoring their tank and witnessing their eggs hatch into fry, students say goodbye to their homegrown shad. Kids create colorful signs with the words “goodbye shad,” which they carry to a designated local point along the Potomac River. This year, the release points are at Great Falls Park, Mirant’s Chalk Point facility and Bladensburg Park in Maryland; and Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. By the end of the program, students clearly understand that their work will continue to benefit shad and their local watershed in the future.

Thanks to LC’s own Sarah Grasmick for the story. For more information about Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region please visit

Posted by: Matt Hurst | April 24, 2009

Keep up with LC online!

learning by doingHave you ever wanted to know or just what it’s like riding the ship with our kids, or what’s we’re working on during the rest of the day? Sure you already know about our great education programs and workforce development, but what exactly is Learning By Doing like?

Now you can keep up to date on Living Classrooms online using our new blog and Twitter accounts. We’ll be sharing everyday experiences in stories with pictures and videos on the blog (come back soon), where you can find out more with comments and links. Alongside with Yarns From The Halfshell, a blog chronicling adventures on our boat since June 2008, Living Classrooms blog will take you behind the scenes and on adventures with our students.

If you still wonder what is going on in between blog posts, our Twitter will help you find out as it happens. For the uninitiated, Twitter is an online network that helps to keep in touch with friends and organizations with short updates. So consider this your inside line to what’s happening, or as a venue for questions too short for an email.

For example Shonika Proctor (@teenbizcoach ) wanted to know “@LCNCR have you guys done partner programs in the past with National Maritime Heritage Foundation?” (indeed we are partners). We’ll be bringing Twitter on-board with us via our mobile phones, so feel free to ask us “What are you doing?” anytime, anywhere.

Of course you can still visit our homepage at to learn about our organization. We’ll keep our focus on building our programs, and now we have new ways to share these stories with you. With two great new ways to keep in touch with LC, you don’t need to wonder anymore what Learning by Doing entails today.

Posted by: Matt Hurst | April 8, 2009

Planting Our Roots

Planting in Progress

Please excuse the website’s mess while Living Classrooms plants ourselves into a new community on the internet.  We’re just starting to grow into our netroots, so come back soon and we’ll keep you posted on updates about what we’re working on with our education and workforce development programs.  Not to mention giving you an inside look on upcoming events.

In the meantime, feel free to follow our progress on Twitter.  Hopefully we can build a strong community online, just like we do when we’re outside in the communities we serve.