About Us

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Mark Eastburn, with another reptilian friend.

Teacher Turtles was started by Mark Eastburn, author of the children’s novel Earning My Spots, as well as the science laboratory teacher at Riverside Elementary School in Princeton, NJ. Ever since Mark began working at Riverside in 2011, questions circled around the captive box turtle population within our courtyard, among them “How many turtles are there?” “How did they get here?” and “Who are the parents of the baby turtles?”

Nobody had any answers…

These questions prompted Mark to apply for funding from the Princeton Education Foundation for a project titled, “Understanding Genetics Through Turtles,” and he was awarded a $1200 grant in December, 2014. With this initial funding, and the support of faculty at nearby Princeton University, Mark was able to guide students in grades K through 5 through the process of designing and implementing an initial population study of 38 turtles in Riverside’s courtyard, as well as helping them analyze the data through a series of engaging “games.” This project has grown with the discovery of 11 new hatchling turtles in the fall of 2015, and this website seeks to build on children’s innate curiosity about the natural world in order to develop a meaningful understanding of heredity, genetics, and environmental conservation, which are all important topics covered in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Lessons and activities can all be aligned with NGSS and Common Core State Standards–just ask for help if you need it! For more information on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), click on the turtle picture below.

This year, it might be more like two handfuls of babies!
New baby turtles are found each year, so click on them to learn more about NGSS!

Do you have a community of box turtles near you? Do you have other animals in mind? If you’d like to collaborate (we might also be starting lizard, frog, snake, and spider projects shortly), please feel free to contact Mark Eastburn at . We look forward to hearing from you!