Grade 5 BioBlitz Field Experience

Since 2001, every fifth grade student in Baltimore County Public Schools participates in a one day field experience.  In 2017, the focus of this program was realigned to the Next Generation Science Standards.  The new field experience engages students in a BioBlitz.  The goal of a Bioblitz is to document every living thing within a specified search area.  Students do this using GPS enabled tablets and an application built in Baltimore County using Esri's  Survey123 application as the base.  In the first year, students collected over 10,000 points of data and cataloged three species not previously documented in the county.  Back at school, students analyze their data as part of the science curriculum and compare the biodiversity they found during their trip to their schoolyard.  The web map below shows the data collected by students.  

This project received recognition in 2018 by Esri and received a "Special Award in GIS".  It was the only K-12 program recognized that year. 

2018 SAG Award

BioBlitz from Baltimore County Public Schools on Vimeo.

Chaperone Information

Thank you for your interest in being a chaperone for your school's grade five Bioblitz experience.   You will be assisting a small group of  students as they explore one of Baltimore County's parks.  In order to help you prepare for this experience, the video below will orient you to all the components of the program.  

Outdoor Safety

Deer Tick Information

Where are Ticks?

Ticks can be found throughout Maryland.  The most common ones are the black-legged tick (sometimes called deer tick), the lone star tick, and the American dog tick.  They can transmit infections diseases when they bite, though not every tick bite transmits disease.  Some ticks are extremely small and the tick that transmits Lyme disease may be smaller than a sesame seed!  

Image shows the size of the black-legged tick (also called the deer tick), the American dog tick, and the lone star tick at various stages of their life cycle in comparison to an adult's fingertip.


What is Lyme disease?

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick (deer tick).  The chance of contracting the disease increases the longer the tick is attached to the body.  The tick must be attached for at least 24 hours for transmission to occur, so it is important to do a tick check as soon as possible after spending time outdoors.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

From three to 30 days after a tick bite, a gradually expanding rash (called erythema migrans) can occur at the site of the bite in 70-80% of infected people.  Sometimes, multiple rash sites appear.   The rash can expand over several days to up to 12 inches and may resemble a bull’s eye.  If untreated, Lyme disease may cause a loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face, severe headaches and neck stiffness, shooting pains that can interrupt sleep, heart palpitations, dizziness, and pain that shifts from joint to joint.  After several months, 60% of untreated patients may develop severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees.  Five percent of untreated patients may experience shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with concentration and short-term memory.

Rash caused by lyme disease

Many tick-borne diseases have similar early symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, and possible rash. Signs and symptoms vary.  Contact your health care provider if you develop any of these symptoms after a tick bite or after being in tick habitat.  Most cases of tick-borne disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially when treatment is started early.

How to Avoid Tick Bites

When outdoors, several precautions can be used to minimize your chances of being bitten:
1.  Tuck your pants legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
2.  When hiking, stay in the middle of trails.  Ticks are most commonly found in the woods and marshy places, in bushes, shrubs, leaf litter, and tall grass.
3.  Wear light colored clothing.  Dark ticks are more easily spotted against light colors.
Inspect clothes often for ticks.  Have a companion inspect your back.
4.  Apply repellents according to label instructions.  Applying directly to clothing appears to be most effective. Repellents with DEET (20-50% for children) are successful.
5.  Upon returning home, remove clothing and wash or put them in the dryer for 30 minutes to kill any ticks.
6.  When you get home, inspect your body thoroughly.  Especially check groin, navel, armpits, head, and behind knees and ears.  Have someone check your back.
7.   Inspect children at least once daily for ticks.  When in heavily infested areas, inspect children every three to four hours.
8.  Remember -- ticks can be found even on mowed lawns and schoolyards!

How to Remove a Tick

tick removal

Use fine-tipped tweezers and protect your hands with a tissue or gloves.
Grab the tick close to the skin. -- Do not twist or jerk the tick.
Gently pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removed.
Clean the tick bite with soap and water or an antiseptic.
Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub.
Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products to remove ticks.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a beneficial, native plant found throughout Maryland.  Many birds and mammals rely on its leaves and berries for food.  However, most humans have some degree of an allergic reaction to the oils in it.
It has three leaves coming off one stem.
There is a red dot at the top of the stem where the three leaves attach.
As vines grow older, they become more hairy looking.
The white fall and winter berries of this vine are great for wildlife, but not for humans.
When leaves emerge from the vine, they can be red and green.
When leaves are young, they are shiny.  Older leaves become duller.
In the fall, the leaves change to yellow or red.
Leaf edges can be smooth or toothed.
Vines can grow across the ground, through buses, up tree trunks, and in the canopy.  This makes identifying it more tricky!
All parts of the plant, even dead parts, contain the urushiol oil that makes you itchy.


three leaves of ivy
three leave come off one stem, the center of the stem has a reddish dot on it


old vines look thick and hairy

old vines look thick and hairy

berries are a greenish white
berries are a greenish white

young leaves look red and green mixed
young leaves look red and green mixed


leaves can be shiny or dull
leaves can be shiny or dull

fall leaves are red or yellow

fall leaves are red or yellow

leaves can have smooth edges
leaves can have smooth edges

leaves can have a few indents along the edges
leaves can have a few indents along the edges

leaves can have a few indents along the edges

leaves can have a lot of "teeth” along the edges

vines can grow across the ground
vines can grow across the ground

vines can look like a bush

vines can look like a bush

vines can grow up a tree

vines can grow up a tree